Emotional Indianapolis 500 Winner Josef Newgarden Gets His Baby Borg, and Yes, He Wants More

Jackson Wheeler
7 Min Read


  • Josef Newgarden’s last-lap pass of defending race winner Marcus Ericsson in the 2023 Indianapolis 500 marked the fourth-closest finish in Indy 500 history.
  • It also marked just the third time that the Indy 500 was won on a last lap pass.
  • That pass and win came in Newgarden’s 12th start in the 500, as he became the first Tennessean to win the race and the first American in seven years to pull off the feat.

It’s been eight months since Josef Newgarden made a last-lap pass for the ages to win the 107th Running of the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Newgarden’s pass of defending race winner Marcus Ericsson marked the fourth-closest finish in Indy 500 history, and it marked just the third time that the Indy 500 was won on a last lap pass. That pass and win came in Newgarden’s 12th start in the 500, as he became the first Tennessean to win the race and the first American in seven years to pull off the feat.

While it was Newgarden’s first win in IndyCar’s biggest race, it was No. 19 for team owner Roger Penske.

Newgarden and Penske were at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Mich., on Tuesday night to collect their Baby Borg trophies, celebrate the addition of Newgarden’s image to the most famous trophy in all of racing—the Borg-Warner Trophy—and to do a little meet and greet with the team’s partners.

107th running of the indianapolis 500

Boston Globe//Getty Images

It took 12 years of trying before Josef Newgarden reached the top of the Indy 500 mountain.

“It’s hard to not get emotional,” Newgarden told Autoweek after seeing a video replay of that last lap for ‘maybe the 20th’ time. “I’ve been in IndyCar now for a little while, 12 years, and I’ve seen the videos of other Indy 500 winners and watching their races back—and they always became emotional. I didn’t have that sort of connection to the race in that way.

“But when you win the event, with your team, you now have a connection that only other winners of the event have. So, I’ve become very emotional when I watch it back. I think about all the heartaches, the time, the sacrifice, and for it to finally pay off and work out is relieving because there’s no guarantee it will ever happen.”

The 33-year-old Newgarden has 29 career IndyCar wins to go with season championships in both 2017 and 2019. He’s also got three runner-up finishes in the IndyCar championship.

Newgarden says he hasn’t taken much time to look back on most of those accomplishments. In that respect, he takes after his boss who is four weeks shy of his 87th birthday.

“You know, I’m a little bit like Roger, I’m looking forward to the next one,” Newgarden says. “What I mean by that is, I want to keep looking forward through the windshield. And it’s not that I’m not appreciative—I mean, this for me was so significant, to just be able to conquer this, this one event and to win one of them—but I want to figure out how we’re going to win No. 2, just as much as he wants to win number 20. So I’m I’m excited about the next mountain we can climb.”

Newgarden is back in action this week, driving another Penske-led effort at the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Rolex 24 at Daytona in the Porsche Penske Motorsport Porsche 963 along with co-drivers Felipe Nasr, Dane Campbell and Matt Campbell.

And once again, Newgarden will be leaning on some of positive vibes still coming from his win at Indianapolis—a win that was 12 years in the making.

“I think you can manifest a lot of your destiny,” Newgarden said. “I do believe in positive energy. Not that I’m preaching for anything specific, but you know, there’s something to a good attitude and trying to foresee where you want to go that absolutely makes a difference.

“But you know, just because you want to win the race or just because you believe you’re a deserving winner of the event, that doesn’t mean you’re going to win the race. There’s no guarantees and you’ve just got to continue to be there year after year and put in the work and try and get in position.

“And if you’re lucky enough to be right place at the right time, you’ve got to capitalize on it.”


Click the video below to watch NBC’s coverage of the last lap of the 2023 Indianapolis 500:

Headshot of Mike Pryson

Mike Pryson covered auto racing for the Jackson (Mich.) Citizen Patriot and MLive Media Group from 1991 until joining Autoweek in 2011. He won several Michigan Associated Press and national Associated Press Sports Editors awards for auto racing coverage and was named the 2000 Michigan Auto Racing Fan Club’s Michigan Motorsports Writer of the Year. A Michigan native, Mike spent three years after college working in southwest Florida before realizing that the land of Disney and endless summer was no match for the challenge of freezing rain, potholes and long, cold winters in the Motor City.

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Jackson Wheeler is a skilled editor at Speedofdaily.com, specializing in automotive content. With a background in Journalism and Automotive Engineering, he combines his passion for cars with his writing expertise to deliver captivating articles. Jackson's deep knowledge of automotive technology and his racing experience make him a valuable asset to the team, providing readers with informative and engaging content.
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