Winners and losers from the 2024 Indianapolis 500

Elizabeth Blackstock
Practice taking place at the 2024 Indy 500.

Indy 500 cars on track.

After an epic rainstorm and four hours of delays, the 2024 Indianapolis 500 delivered one of the most compelling races in the sport’s history.

Josef Newgarden of Team Penske may have crossed the yard of bricks in first position, but a simple finishing order never quite tells the full story when a race lasts for 200 fascinating laps that saw 49 lead changes and a record 18 different leaders.

2024 Indianapolis 500 winners and losers

The 108th running of the Indy 500 created hundreds of fascinating storylines, but today, we’re going to recap the biggest winners — and the biggest losers.

WINNER: Josef Newgarden and Team Penske

It hasn’t been a good year to be a Team Penske driver. Both Josef Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin were disqualified from the season opening race at St. Petersburg, Florida for illegally utilizing Push to Pass, which provides limited bursts of boost to aid in overtaking, on restarts.

Newgarden, who utilized that system illegally more than anyone else, lost his win at the race and faced down a massive amount of criticism for hosting an emotional press conference where he insisted that he did not cheat.

The whole affair has soured many fans; even though Newgarden and McLaughlin were disqualified, and even though Team Penske suspended several critical team members for two races (including the Indy 500), there’s a large group of folks who feel that that wasn’t enough — especially because team owner Roger Penske also owns the IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

There’s a lot of speculation that this cheating scandal is a conspiracy, and that there are simply far too many conflicts of interest.

It’ll be difficult for Penske and Newgarden to completely leave this affair in the past, but it’s also difficult to argue that Newgarden and Team Penske did not deserve their victory — the 20th 500 win for Roger. Newgarden’s masterful back-to-back performance at the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, however, is a step in the right direction.

LOSER: Honda

Of the 11 drivers that retired from the 2024 Indianapolis 500, nine were Honda-powered. Of those nine Honda retirements, three were mechanical failures. The two Chevrolet retirements were solely due to contact.

It’s a bitter pill to swallow for the Honda camp; the Japanese manufacturer struggled throughout the entire month of May. While Honda’s teams appeared to have strong race pace in practice, its qualifying effort was poor: All six drivers in the first two rows of the grid were Chevy drivers, and all four of the slowest drivers competing for the final three grid slots were Honda drivers. In the race itself, only three Honda drivers finished in the top 10.

David Salters, president of Honda Racing Corporation USA, said, “It was a disappointing day. All things considered, we weren’t good enough on the day. We’ll regroup, lick our wounds, focus our efforts, and come back.”

Prior to the race, Salters joined a media availability session for journalists who had been invited as guests of Honda. During that session, he admitted that the debut of hybrid engines had required some compromises in terms of Indy 500 preparation, and that Honda had actually fallen behind performance expectations when it came time to compete at the Speedway. The answers for the drop in performance are not immediately available, but it certainly doesn’t bode well for Honda, which is currently rumored to be looking for an IndyCar exit strategy.

WINNER: Pato O’Ward

No, this placement isn’t a mistake — despite losing an almost guaranteed win after an audacious last-lap pass from Newgarden, Arrow McLaren driver Pato O’Ward has every right to be devastated. He also has every right to be included on the winner list.

At 25 years old, O’Ward has actively raced in five Indy 500s and has performed admirably in every single one. In his debut race, he finished sixth. He followed that with a fourth-place finish in 2021, then a second in 2022. His 24th-place classification in 2023 doesn’t quite tell the story of his battle for the lead and unfortunate crash within the final 10 laps. This year, he passed Newgarden on the final lap; in every other year, that would have meant victory. In 2024. It wasn’t enough.

O’Ward exited the car with a heavy heart and heavier sobs, offering heartbreaking interviews to the media. And yet O’Ward has matured immensely, both in IndyCar as a whole and at the Indy 500, over the past few years.

The Mexican driver had produced stunning performances and many equally stunning crashes thanks to his fiery demeanor; his 2023 victory in the 500 was almost assured until he crashed in attempting to pass Marcus Ericsson. This year, O’Ward’s drive was just as inspired, but it was far more measured.

His racing line in the final stages sliced apexes and set him up for perfect passes. It wasn’t enough, but an O’Ward of a different year may very well have wrecked himself and the leader trying to win. It was a devastating result, but O’Ward should be proud. He has a long and impressive career ahead of him at the Speedway.

LOSER: Kyle Larson

All things considered, NASCAR star Kyle Larson had an impressive debut at the Indianapolis 500. Despite accruing a penalty for speeding in the pit lane, he completed all 200 laps and took home an 18th-place finish for his efforts. He committed to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway despite the rain and raced incredibly well. He has much to be proud of.

But Larson has stumbled onto our losers list for one big reason: His attempt at completing the “Double” — or, racing in the Indy 500 followed by NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 — was squashed by poor weather and NASCAR politics.

Larson stuck around for the 500’s four-hour rain delay and completed the event, then immediately jetted off to Charlotte Motor Speedway. He arrived at the track just as the race was flagged for weather. Because NASCAR had completed half distance, and because humidity in the area was set to make track drying problematic, and because it was already late, NASCAR called the race. Larson wasn’t able to turn a single lap.

Now, he may be facing a slew of repercussions. At this time of writing, NASCAR has not provided Larson with a “waiver” that approves his missing the Coca-Cola 600. As a result, there is still a chance that Larson will be entirely disqualified from the NASCAR Championship because he failed to compete in one race — even though it wasn’t his fault.

Many pundits in the NASCAR sphere are also actively arguing that Larson be denied a waiver, angry because one of their finest drivers had prioritized another race in another series over the Cup Series.

Rather than celebrate his performance, they demand punishment (especially as other drivers like Ryan Blaney toy with the idea of attempting the same feat in the future). This may be Larson’s last attempt at completing the Double — and it may also spell the end of any attempts in the future.

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WINNER: Scott Dixon

Qualifying did not look good for Scott Dixon. The six-time IndyCar champion and one-time 500 winner qualified on the outside of the seventh row for the 108th running of the event. Despite starting 21st, he finished third.

As we noted before, Honda’s engines just weren’t cut out for the task of winning the 500 this year; if they had been, Dixon’s exceptional performance would have set him up as a dominant victor.

He was one of a few drivers that tried an alternate pit strategy, and luck played into his favor as his competition retired. He carved through the field and was briefly one of the race’s 18 leaders, showing yet again that he is truly one of the finest open-wheel racers in the world.

LOSER: Katherine Legge

Katherine Legge made her Indy 500 return in 2023 after nine years away from the track, but her race ended in disappointment. She returned to IMS in 2024 seeking redemption, but her Dale Coyne Racing No. 51 machine let her down: on lap 23, Legge slowed on the track as smoke poured from the rear of her car. Her engine had failed, and she would retire from the race after just 57 of its 500 miles.

While Legge wasn’t the only Honda driver to face an engine issue, her result was uniquely disappointing. The 44-year-old was the only woman in the field, and one of only nine women to ever compete at Indianapolis.

She arrived for a one-off attempt at the race with ample backing from sponsor e.l.f. Cosmetics and served as a huge inspiration to female fans around the globe. It is unclear if Legge will return for another shot at the race; it would be truly disappointing for her Indianapolis efforts to end in back-to-back retirements after breaking so many records and being such a fantastic ambassador for the sport.

WINNER: e.l.f. Cosmetics

Even though e.l.f. Cosmetics driver Katherine Legge exited the race early, the brand was a serious winner of the Indy 500 this year. The makeup brand sponsored Legge in 2023, then came back to provide a primary partnership in 2024. Further, e.l.f. signed on as a partner of the 2024 Indy 500 and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Its investment in the sport was clear. Not only did e.l.f. put on an exceptional drone show over downtown Indianapolis on the Saturday night before the race, but it also developed a massive “lip oil change” fan activation in the infield.

There, fans of all kinds could get a makeover, enter a contest to win a year’s supply of lip oil, learn about the nine women who have contested the Indy 500, and collect sample products and Legge-specific merchandise items. The merchandise itself included scarves, hats and magnets while the samples were as generic as sunscreen and lip balm, or as glamorous as mascara and plumping lipstick.

Of all the activations in the fan area — which included displays from other sponsors like Good Ranchers and Verizon — the e.l.f. display was both the most elaborate and the most well attended. It was the only activation that actively provided an experience and products designed for a female audience, but it was just as welcoming for the men who perused its offerings.

The sponsorship represents a shift in motorsport demographics; while women have always watched and competed in racing, few sponsors (outside of, say, lingerie companies) have actually considered their wants or needs.

Now, women are so prevalent in the racing world that big-name woman-focused brands like e.l.f. can see a benefit in investing time, money, and resources into motorsport because it knows it can see a return on its investment. That’s a huge win for e.l.f., for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and for women involved in motorsport around the world.

LOSER: Colton Herta

Colton Herta is notorious for both his bad luck and his small mistakes — neither of which ever seem to strike at the same time.

His 2024 season has been one of his most consistent yet, and during the first half of the 2024 Indy 500, he looked like an exceptional contender for the lead after putting on a promising show in practice.

Unfortunately for the Californian driver, he lost control of his car on the entry to Turn 1 on lap 86. While he did appear to save it momentarily, a second bump of oversteer meant Herta careened into the wall. He had fought his way up from 13th to second before losing control.

Herta’s Andretti Autosport team brought the car back to the garage, where it deemed the damage to be repairable. Herta ultimately finished 170 of the race’s 200 laps and was classified as the 23rd-place finisher — but it was a serious blow to one of the fastest Honda drivers of the race.

WINNER: The Fans

When a race is delayed several hours for severe weather, it can be a challenge to keep fans both safe and happy. This year, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway proved why it remains one of the finest sporting venues in the world with its handling of the rain delay.

First and foremost, when it became clear earlier this month that weather may impact the 500, IMS rented the high-powered jet dryers that NASCAR uses to clear its tracks of moisture.

On the day of the race, it provided fans with ample safe areas to seek shelter and a long heads-up to get there. Track cell service and WiFi remained strong, and as the lightning cleared, a group of dedicated fans organized foot races that drew huge crowds and kept the atmosphere buzzing.

The track dried quickly, IMS still provided a tradition-packed pre-race show, and when the green flag finally flew, it felt just as special as any other race day. The exceptional show was simply the cherry on top of a stress-free and impressively organized event.

LOSER: Meyer Shank Racing

Oh, Meyer Shank Racing. The plucky team has had one of its finest years yet in IndyCar racing, boasting one pole position and securing several top-10 finishes — and it looked set to replicate that performance in the Indy 500.

Félix Rosenqvist was one of the three Hondas in the Fast 12 qualifying session, but he was one of several Honda drivers to suffer engine issues on race day.

Meanwhile, sportscar ace Tom Blomqvist embarrassed the team with a first-lap crash. He dropped below the white line in Turn 1 and, as he lost control, he crashed into Marcus Ericsson. Pietro Fittipaldi and Callum Ilott made contact trying to avoid the wreck, bringing out the first caution of the race — and becoming the first three retirements in the 500.

That left the team’s hopes in the hands of four-time 500 winner Hélio Castroneves. The Brazilian had a beastly run in the race, passing five cars in as many laps and racing hard to make up for his 20th-place starting position. Unfortunately, he suffered a poor pit stop that saw him lose out on all that hard work. He crossed the line in 20th.

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