“The ending was storybook. You couldn’t write it any better.” – Danica Patrick
“Simon Pagenaud sweeps the month of May and wins his maiden Indy 500.” – Leigh Diffey
“It’s a dream come true. It’s been a life of trying to achieve this. I’m just speechless. It’s just incredible.” – Simon Pagenaud
“This is some of the greatest driving I’ve ever seen.” – Dale Earnhardt Jr.
STAMFORD, Conn. – May 26, 2019 – NBC Sports’ exclusive coverage of the 103rd Indianapolis 500 culminated this afternoon in historic fashion on NBC at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, as Simon Pagenaud edged out Alexander Rossi for his first career Indy 500. Pagenaud’s victory marks the 18th Indianapolis 500 win for Team Penske, who came in first, fourth, and fifth in this year’s Indy 500.
NBC Sports’ Indianapolis 500 commentary team of Leigh Diffey (play-by-play) and analysts Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy called NBC Sports’ inaugural broadcast of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” on NBC, alongside pit reporters Marty Snider, Kelli Stavast, Kevin Lee, Jon Beekhuis, and Robin Miller.
Mike Tirico – in his first INDYCAR assignment – anchored coverage alongside NBC Sports motorsports analyst Dale Earnhardt Jr., who was at his first Indy 500, and analyst and former INDYCAR driver Danica Patrick. NBC Sports motorsports host Krista Voda and reporter Rutledge Wood also contributed to the network’s Indy 500 presentation.
Tirico: “On the way to our set on the track before, one of the members on Team Penske handed me a coin and it’s Roger [Penske’s] favorite saying: ‘Effort equals results.’ First, fourth, and fifth – Team Penske. One more time.”
Earnhardt Jr. on back-and-forth finish: “This was just so emotional. To watch this whole race play out, what a break for Pagenaud. Incredible driving from Rossi, but when it counted at the end, incredible driving from Pagenaud.”
Patrick on finish: “Wow. I got pretty animated. I feel very fortunate that was my first race I could watch as a retired driver here at the track. So exciting. Their driving was amazing. The ending was storybook. You couldn’t write it any better.”
Simon Pagenaud on his victory: “It’s a dream come true. It’s been a life of trying to achieve this. I’m just speechless. It’s just incredible. I never expected to be in this position.”
Bell on Pagenaud’s final lap: “That guy was swerving like a cobra snake.”
Alexander Rossi on runner-up finish: “Unfortunately, nothing else matters here except winning. This one will be a hard one to get over.”
Team owner Roger Penske on Pagenaud’s victory: “What a job Simon did this month. What a guy. Can you believe it? And he won that thing…I just cannot believe it.”
Diffey on Pagenaud’s victory: “Simon Pagenaud sweeps the month of May and wins his maiden Indy 500…Two-tenths of a second is all that separated Simon Pagenaud and Alexander Rossi.”
Race on NBC
Tracy on Pagenaud-Rossi battle for the finish: “Pagenaud can’t get away, Rossi says he wants it. He’s angrier than anyone else in the field.”
Patrick on final laps during red flag: “As drivers, this is always a very confusing time because this isn’t a sport where you can plan a play. It’s almost impossible. So, in my opinion, this is where experience, maturity, confidence and just the pure handling of your car is going to come in handy in every aspect.”
Tracy on final laps during red flag: “This is now a knife fight until the end.”
Diffey on final laps during red flag: “Make no mistake about it, this is the calm before the storm.”
Earnhardt Jr. on today’s Indy 500: “Rossi is sort of on a mission all his own, doing things I’ve never seen racecar drivers do. This is some of the greatest driving I’ve ever seen. You watch this race on TV, it’s up in the cockpit. When you’re here in person, you can see that, you can see the danger that he’s putting himself in. It’s incredible. Incredible bravery.”
Graham Rahal on contact with Sebastien Bourdais: “I respect Sebastien a lot, I don’t respect that move, but I do respect him as a driver tremendously and I’m sure he feels the same right now… I’m just not a fan of squeezing people and putting people in those positions. It’s not necessary.”
Patrick on Bourdais’ spotter during crash: “You have a spotter in your ear calling inside. I love Bourdais, he was having a fantastic day, but his spotter should have – if he wasn’t, but probably was – calling inside. You’ve got to make a decision as a driver to go “I’ve got to give room””.
Patrick on hitting the next level in driving: “As drivers we’re in a mentally different space the entire time, it’s a very focused space. But there is a next level, there is a next elite level that I believe that as an athlete if you can tap into that more often, that’s what makes you great. Rossi’s in that. You can see that with all of his passes.”
Diffey on Rossi fueling issues on lap 139: “I don’t think I’ve ever seen Rossi flip out like that… This is a cool guy, very understated. You don’t see Rossi flip out like this.”
Patrick on her experience and the beginning of the race: “For my first time here on pit lane watching it, it’s exciting, number one, and number two, I’m right so far. Simon is still leading. Of course it’s early, but it looks tough to pass. Look, conditions are different today than they were on Carb Day. Heard a lot of issues on Carb Day come up that they hadn’t had yet this month. So here we are now in another day and it’s a different condition than Friday.”
Pre-Race on NBC (11 a.m. ET)
Bell: “I’ve done this race many times… Whether I finished in the top five or finished at the back, you always have a life-changing, ultimate life moment here at Indy and today feels no different.”
Tirico on Mario Andretti on 50th Anniversary of his 1969 Indy 500 win: “He might be 79, but he has the spirit of a 30-year-old.”
Tirico: “They call it the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. It’s everything they say it is, and more.”
Bell: “As I look out at the biggest crowd in all of sports, I realize that in the 10 Indy 500s that I did here, I never actually took it in like I am today because I would come out here in a laser-like focus. I’m in a tunnel, almost like a white-out focus, as I think about the mission ahead. Not only was I chasing the biggest prize in racing, I was taking the biggest risk each year. This is the most dangerous race on the schedule. And as these guys start to strap in, and look down to turn one, there’s only one question in their mind: who’s going to get their first?”
Pre-Race on NBCSN (9-11 a.m. ET)
Bell: “This place will focus your attention more than anywhere else in the world. The biggest prize is at the end of those 500 miles. It’s the biggest prize in racing, it’s also the greatest risk these drivers will take all year.”
Bell on Roger Penske: “The intensity is insane… He’s 82 years old, he’s a billionaire. He can be anywhere in the world on this Sunday doing anything he wants. He’s here in Indianapolis competing with every bit of intensity that he had back in 1969 and the record is unbelievable.”
Tracy: “This race is the biggest race in the world. This is a race that when you win, it lifts the weight of the world off your shoulders.”
Tracy on Penske: “I know first-hand, I was signed to Roger Penske as a young driver, and any time that you get signed to his team you are expected to win Roger a championship and/or an Indy 500 for him. This is what it’s all about for him.”
Tirico: “300,000 people all taking in everything there is about Indy and the race itself, a day where hearts are broken and dreams are made.”
Patrick: “As a kid, I remember watching this race every year… every single year it was a ceremony, it was a routine. I just have such a love for it.”
Earnhardt Jr. on the Snake Pit: “This is crazy. I’ve always wanted to come to the Indy 500… The one thing everybody says that you’ve got to go to is the Snake Pit. I mean this is crazy… It’s 9 a.m. and this place is packed.”
Pre-race coverage included:
- James Hinchcliffe and Robert Wickens – NBC Sports examined the relationship between Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports teammates James Hinchcliffe and Robert Wickens, whose friendship dates back to their high school years – and how their bond has sustained through the ups and downs of their careers. Hinchcliffe suffered a life-threatening crash at IMS in 2015 and missed qualifying for the Indy 500 in 2018. Towards the latter part of an impressive rookie season in 2018, Wickens suffered a crash at Pocono that left him paralyzed from the waist down and is in the midst of his road to recovery;
- Will Power – NBC Sports profiled defending Indy 500 champion Will Power and what it meant for one of INDYCAR’s most accomplished drivers to win the 500 for the first time in 2018;
- Patrick on Indianapolis 500 traditions – Patrick, who recorded six Top-10 finishes in eight Indy 500 starts, took fans through some traditions at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, including a look at the iconic Borg Warner Trophy and a walk down Gasoline Alley;
- Earnhardt Jr. on track with Mario Andretti at Indianapolis Motor Speedway – In addition to his role as official pace car driver for the Indianapolis 500 before the green flag was waved, Dale Earnhardt Jr. took a ride around the track in a two-seat INDYCAR with Mario Andretti;
- If These Bricks Could Talk – Mario Andretti narrated a segment about Indianapolis Motor Speedway and famed INDYCAR drivers who have crossed the Yard of Bricks as Indy 500 winners;
- Wood visits Kuehnert Dairy Farm – Rutledge Wood visited the fifth generation Indiana dairy farm and spoke with Andrew Kuehnert, who delivers the traditional bottle of milk to the winning Indy 500 driver;
- Bell and Conor Daly Fly in F-16 Fighter Jet – NBC Sports’ Indy 500 analyst Townsend Bell took a trip in an F-16 with INDYCAR driver Conor Daly to see the comparison between Air Force pilots and INDYCAR drivers. Daly qualified in 11th position for this year’s race and his car is sponsored by the U.S. Air Force;
- “How Far, How Fast” – Fifty years after Apollo 11 landed on the moon, Ice-T narrated “How Far, How Fast,” which also featured Apollo 10 astronaut Gen. Thomas P. Stafford and showcased what astronauts and racers have in common – a passion for speed and pushing themselves to the limit.
The Voice star Kelly Clarkson performed the National Anthem ahead of the race, Chevel Shepherd (Season 15 winner of The Voice, on Clarkson’s team) sang “God Bless America”, and Matt Iseman and Akbar Gbaja-Biamila (American Ninja Warrior) served as the Indy 500 Grand Marshals. Academy Award winners Matt Damon and Christian Bale waved green flag at approximately 12:45 p.m. ET, signaling the beginning of the race.