Jones makes it an Indy Lights hat trick with win in Long Beach


LONG BEACH, Calif. – Ed Jones has taken his third victory in as many Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires races to open the 2015 season, but today’s triumph at Long Beach wasn’t nearly as straightforward as his pole-to-flag romps in St. Petersburg.

Jones, driver of the No. 11 Carlin Dallara IL15-Mazda, started fourth but quickly made it up to second following a sizeable first-lap accident involving Kyle Kaiser (No. 18 Juncos Racing) and polesitter Jack Harvey (No. 42 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports).

Kaiser ran up and onto the back of Harvey heading into Turn 1, with second-starting Spencer Pigot (No. 12 Juncos Racing) trapped on the outside and Felix Serralles (No. 4 Belardi Auto Racing) diving to the inside and emerging with the lead. Kaiser was done on the spot, while Harvey limped around to the pit lane sans rear wing.

On the Lap 4 restart, Serralles got the jump but Jones quickly passed him on the restart.

While Jones took the lead, Pigot, who’d fallen to fifth in the first lap fracas, began his comeback charge, making a number of excellent passes for position into Turn 9.

A mid-race caution in the 42-lap race for another incident between the luckless Harvey in a repaired car and Serralles’ teammate Juan Piedrahita – both stuck in the tires at Turn 8 – brought the 3-second gap between Jones and Pigot down to nothing.

But despite Pigot’s dogged charge, Jones held on for the win. Serralles was third for his first Indy Lights podium.

Post-race, the podium finishers described their views of the Turn 1 incident, which was the key moment of the race.

“We weren’t so quick on Friday and qualifying was so close,” Jones said. “It was so easy to make a mistake, and with only a tenth from first to fourth. So it could have been any of us on pole.

“We were on wrong side of the pace. I don’t think we had the pace of Spencer, so we took the opportunity. The start was the key factor to make up positions. I built a gap over Felix. The safety car came out, closed the gap, and it put Spencer right behind.

“For the last half of the race it was extremely hard. You have to use push-to-pass more strategically. I’d only use it when I saw Spencer was quite close. You could feel the difference. At St. Pete it was minimal.”

Pigot recapped his viewpoint and his recovery.

“Yeah it was looking good. I was side by side with Jack. Then I braked late and saw him flying by,” Pigot said. “Then I saw Kyle on the back of him. It forced me out wide with nowhere to go. I ended up fifth. It’s a good result to come back to second.

“It felt really good. The only place I could get a good run was out of 8 into 9. You had to square up the entry and put down the power. I got a little close a few times. I think we bumped wheels a few times. We had hard, aggressive, somewhat clean racing. We both got through it, so it was good.”

Serralles noted his vantage point and the restart.

“Everyone was a bit close, especially Jack and Kyle,” he said. “I decided whether to go left or right. Luckily I stayed left. Kyle went over the back and I was able to go through. It’s a good result. We struggled on pace at St. Pete. I missed a test day at Barber because I was sick. We’re getting quicker.

“It’s just different coming from European racing when the pace car leaves and you go when the leader goes. Here it’s when you see the green flag. I kind of waited but it allowed him to get a good run.”

The Indy Lights field moves to Barber Motorsports Park for a doubleheader weekend, for Rounds 4 and 5 of the championship.

Josef Newgarden claims first Indy 500 victory, outdueling Marcus Ericsson in 1-lap shootout


INDIANAPOLIS — Josef Newgarden won the 107th Indy 500 with a last-lap pass of Marcus Ericsson, giving team owner Roger Penske his 19th victory in the race but his first as the owner of Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

In a one-lap shootout after the third red flag in the final 20 laps, Newgarden grabbed the lead from Ericsson on the backstretch and then weaved his way to the checkered flag (mimicking the same moves Ericsson had made to win at the Brickyard last year). Santino Ferrucci finished third for AJ Foyt Racing, maintaining his streak of finishing in the top 10 in all five of his Indianapolis 500 starts.

“I’m just so thankful to be here,” Newgarden told NBC Sports’ Marty Snider. “You have no idea. I started out as a fan in the crowd. And this place, it’s amazing.

INSIDE TEAM PENSKE: The tension and hard work preceding ‘The Captain’s’ 19th win

“Regardless of where you’re sitting. It doesn’t matter if you’re driving the car, you’re working on it or you’re out here in the crowd. You’re a part of this event and the energy. So thank you to Indianapolis. I love this city. I grew up racing karts here when I was a kid. I’m just so thankful for Roger and (team president) Tim (Cindric) and everybody at Team Penske.

“I just felt like everyone kept asking me why I haven’t won this race. They look at you like you’re a failure if you don’t win it, and I wanted to win it so bad. I knew we could. I knew we were capable. It’s a huge team effort. I’m so glad to be here.”

Newgarden became the first driver from Tennessee to win the Indy 500 and the first American to win the Greatest Spectacle in Racing since Alexander Rossi in 2016.

“I think the last two laps I forgot about being a track owner and said let’s go for it,” Penske told Snider. “But what a great day. All these wonderful fans. To get No. 19 racing my guy Ganassi, my best friend in this business. But a terrific effort by Josef. Tim Cindric called a perfect race.

“Had a great race, safe race. I’ll never forget it. I know Josef wanted it so bad and wondered why he couldn’t be there, but today all day long, he worked his way up there, and at the end when it was time to go, I was betting on him.”

After Newgarden finally got his first Indy 500 victory on his 12th attempt the two-time NTT IndyCar Series champion climbed out of his No. 2 Dallara-Chevrolet, squeezed through a hole in the catchfence and ran into the stands to celebrate with fans.

“I’ve always wanted to go into the crowd at Indianapolis,” Newgarden said. “I wanted to go through the fence. I wanted to celebrate with the people. I just thought it would be so cool because I know what that energy is like on race day. This was a dream of mine. If this was ever going to happen, I wanted to do that.”

After finishing 0.0974 seconds behind in second with his No. 8 Dallara-Honda, Ericsson was upset about how IndyCar officials handled the ending.

Though it’s not the first time a red flag has been used to guarantee a green-flag finish at the Indy 500, IndyCar races typically haven’t been restarted with only one lap remaining. The green flag was thrown as the field left the pits in an unusual maneuver that had echoes of Formula One’s controversial 2021 season finale.

“I just feel like it was unfair and a dangerous end to the race,” Ericsson told NBC Sports’ Kevin Lee. “I don’t think there was enough laps to do what we did. We’ve never done a restart out of the pits, and we don’t get the tires up to temperature.

“I think we did everything right today. I’m very proud of the No. 8 crew. I think I did everything right behind the wheel. I did an awesome last restart. I think I caught Josef completely off guard and got the gap and kept the lead. But I just couldn’t hold it on the (backstretch). I was flat but couldn’t hold it. I’m proud of us.

“Congratulations to Josef, he did everything right as well. He’s a worthy champion, I’m just very disappointed with the way that ended. I don’t think that was fair.”

There also were a lot of emotions for Ferrucci, who was tearing up as he exited his No. 14 Dallara-Chevy. In the past eight weeks, the team has weathered the deaths of A.J. Foyt’s wife and longtime publicist Anne Fornoro’s husband.

“It’s just tough,” Ferrucci told NBC Sports’ Dave Burns. “We were there all day. All day. I’m just so proud of our AJ Foyt Racing team. We had a few people riding on board with us. This one stings, it’s bittersweet. I’m happy for third and the team. I’m happy for Josef and all of Team Penske.

“I was trying not to tear up getting into the race car before we started the race. Different emotions. It was different. I think coming to the end, the last few restarts. I think IndyCar did the right decision with what they have done. a green-flag finish for the fans. Wish we had a couple more laps to finish that off.”

Pole-sitter Alex Palou rebounded to finish fourth after a collision in the pits near the midpoint. Alexander Rossi took fifth.

The race was stopped three times for 37 minutes for three crashes, including a terrifying wreck involving Felix Rosenqvist and Kyle Kirkwood that sent a tire over the Turn 2 catchfence.

It had been relatively clean with only two yellow flags until the final 50 miles.

After spending the first half of the race trading the lead, pole-sitter Alex Palou and Rinus VeeKay (who started second) collided while exiting the pits under yellow on Lap 94.

Leaving the pits after leading 24 laps, VeeKay lost control under acceleration. He looped his No. 21 Dallara-Chevy into the No. 10 Dallara-Honda of Palou that already had left the first pit stall after completing its stop,

Palou, who had led 36 laps. stayed on the lead lap despite multiple stops to replace the front wing but restarted in 28th.

“What an absolute legend trying to win it,” Palou sarcastically radioed his team about VeeKay, who received a drive-through penalty for the contact when the race returned to green.

The incident happened after the first yellow flag on Lap 92 after Sting Ray Robb slapped the outside wall in Turn 1 after battling with Graham Rahal.

Robb put the blame on Rahal in an interview with NBC Sports’ Dillon Welch.

“I think I just need to pay more attention to the stereotypes of the series,” Robb said. “Pay attention to who I’m racing, and that was just way too aggressive of a move I thought. But yeah, I guess we’re in the wall and not much further to say.”

An already miserable May for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing continued before the race even started.

Rahal, who failed to qualify but started his 16th consecutive Indy 500 in place of the injured Stefan Wilson, was unable to start his No. 24 for Dreyer & Reinbold/Cusick Motorsports.

After two aborted attempts at firing the car’s Chevrolet engine, team members pushed Rahal behind the pit wall and swapped out a dead battery. Rahal finally joined the field on the third lap, but he wouldn’t finish last.

RLL teammate Katherine Legge, who had been involved in the Monday practice crash that fractured Wilson’s back, struggled with the handling on her No. 44 Dallara-Honda and nearly spun while exiting the pits after her first stop on Lap 35.

Legge exited her car about 30 laps later as her team began working to fix a steering problem.