Simon Pagenaud and Alexander Rossi exchanged the lead five times over the final 13 laps before Pagenaud ultimately came out on top to win the 2019 Indianapolis 500 on Sunday.
Pagenaud won the 103rd running of the race by just 0.2086 seconds, the seventh-smallest margin of victory in history.
Win Guarantees Job Security for Pagenaud
The win provided validation for the Frenchman, who had been the subject of rumors that he might lose his job with Team Penske – to none other than Rossi himself – after a winless start to the season. But Pagenaud never doubted that he’d be back in the winner’s circle, a belief that has now earned him two straight IndyCar wins.
“That’s pretty much my trait, that’s my character is I can never give up until it’s over, even if I’m eighth, I’m ninth, you never see me give up,” Pagenaud told reporters after the race. “That’s what saved me. It saved my career.”
Pagenaud was the dominant driver for most of the day, leading 116 of the race’s 200 laps. But Rossi was in the mix down the stretch, taking the lead heading into a final restart after a late wreck caused a stoppage.
“A bunch of hungry, angry cars behind me,” Rossi said over his team radio before the restart. “Little do they know I’m angrier.”
But it was Pagenaud who retook the lead off the restart, and while the two traded the lead back and forth over the final sprint, it was Pagenaud who would come out on top.
“I think we had the superior car. We just didn’t have enough there at the end,” Rossi said after the race. “Nothing else matters but winning. This one will be hard to get over.”
According to Pagenaud, he knew his car had enough to get past Rossi during the final laps.
“I wasn’t really worried about getting him back,” he said. “I was just worried about the rhythm, when to get him back to finish first.”
Leaderboard Loaded with Top Drivers
Both Rossi and Pagenaud came into the race among the favorites. The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook had defending champion Will Power as the slight 7/1 favorite to win the race, with Pagenaud – who won the IndyCar Grand Prix two weeks earlier – Rossi, and Josef Newgarden each at 8/1.
Takuma Sato finished in third place, while Santino Ferrucci finished seventh to be the highest finishing rookie in the field. Power finished in fifth place in his attempt to become of the first back-to-back winner since Helio Castroneves did so in 2001 and 2002.
The win put Pagenaud in the IndyCar Series lead with 250 points, one point ahead of Newgarden, who finished fourth. Rossi is currently in third place, while Sato is fourth.
Pagenaud was the first Frenchman to win the Indianapolis 500 since Rene Thomas did so in 1914, in only the fourth running of the race.