Ed Carpenter Racing driver led 14 laps on Sunday
Josef Newgarden nearly won the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500.
And even though Alexander Rossi won the race thanks in large part to a successful fuel strategy, Newgarden had no hard feelings and refused to call it a cheap win even though the win will be remembered for Rossi’s ability to squeeze an incredible 36 laps of out of his final fuel load.
Rossi led the final four laps, including the most important one.
“I think if I was in Alex’s position, I’d be the happiest man in the world right now,” said Newgarden, who led with eight laps to go only to finish third after making a late pit for fuel. “I wouldn’t care how we won the damn race.”
Rossi was one of 13 leaders in a race that had 54 lead changes — second most lead changes in Indy 500 history (there were 68 in 2013). Rossi and Newgarden each led 14 laps, while Ryan Hunter-Reay led the most with 52.
“It just sucks that it didn’t play out the way we needed it to,” Newgarden said. “Fuel became a factor at the end. Everyone was on different strategies. They played the fuel strategy. For us, it would have been silly to do that. That’s why none of the leaders did it.
“Those guys I think, you know, to put it politely, I don’t think they were quite as strong as us today. I don’t think they had as strong of an opportunity to win at the end, so they had to mix it up. They mixed it up, and it paid off big for them.”
Newgarden wasn’t asking for anyone to feel sorry for him, that’s for sure.
“I don’t think I have a pity card to play,” he said. “You could probably go through the list of guys that have nearly won this thing or that should have won this thing. This is really the first time I’ve ever felt like I could have won that race and it just didn’t happen.
“I can rest a little bit now and go to Detroit and try to kick everyone’s ass again.”