Indy 500: Josef Newgarden praises 'champion of the speedway'

Josef Newgarden praised Indianapolis Motor Speedway president Doug Boles and everyone who played a part in making the rain-delayed Indy 500 a success.
Josef Newgarden, Team Penske, Indy 500, IndyCar
Josef Newgarden, Team Penske, Indy 500, IndyCar / Alex Martin / Journal and Courier / USA

The Indy 500 hasn't been postponed due to bad weather since 1997, and it hasn't been shortened since 2007. Both streaks appeared to be in jeopardy on Sunday as rain fell at Indianapolis Motor Speedway when the green flag was originally scheduled to fly.

But track president Doug Boles and his team did not give up on getting the 108th running of the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing" in on Sunday.

They did their best to evacuate the grandstands when it appeared that lightning was approaching, in order to avoid the chaos of evacuating 300,000+ fans at once when the risk was at its highest.

Several thousand fans opted to "take cover" in the grandstands and stick out the rain, which did eventually ease up a few hours after the 200-lap race around the four-turn, 2.5-mile (4.023-kilometer) Speedway, Indiana oval was supposed to have gotten underway.

After a delay of about four hours, the green flag flew on Sunday afternoon, and the fans stuck it out.

The plan was to run to 200 laps or to 8:15 p.m. ET, whichever happened first. Though sundown was not until a bit later, the 8:15 p.m. ET time was established due to the involvement of local law enforcement in getting fans safely home from the race track.

But given the fact that all 22 Indy 500s contested from 2002 to 2023 would have fit into this timing window, it appeared likely that all 200 laps would indeed be run on Sunday.

All 200 laps were indeed run on Sunday, and the race was well worth the wait.

Team Penske's Josef Newgarden won it for the second straight year, once again doing so with a last lap pass for the lead. A last lap pass for the victory had only happened twice in the first 106 editions of the race before 2023. Sunday's race featured 49 official lead changes, fourth most in event history.

Newgarden, along with pretty much every other driver in the field of 33, praised the fans for sticking it out during Monday night's Indianapolis 500 Victory Celebration.

Afterward, Newgarden also had high praise for Boles, who has been the track president since June 2013.

"I can't speak highly enough about Doug," Newgarden told Beyond the Flag. "He's a champion of the speedway. He's passionate about the Indianapolis 500 and everything it represents. He's one of the best leaders that we have at the speedway, in the series, and they handled and executed the rain delay pretty masterfully."

As is usually the case on any race day when there is rain in the forecast, there were several fans who urged the series just to postpone the race to Monday. But Boles and the team made the right choice, and it paid off.

They even orchestrated the process that led to NBC lifting the traditional local blackout for just the fourth time in the last 70 years.

"I don't know that they had a plan for everything, but their reaction seemed perfect, and it's more than one person," Newgarden continued. "It was an entire team that was there the whole day, trying to make it work.

IndyCar driver returning for first appearance in seven years. IndyCar driver returning for first appearance in seven years. dark. Next

"I think it was a good collaboration between all the teams at the speedway and the fans to collectively still make the show what it is, and it looked just as good if not better than last year."