Race day saw temperatures in the mid 21 °C range with partly cloudy skies. For the first time since 2014, all 33 cars were able to take the green flag to start the race. At the start, Scott Dixon moved into the lead, while Will Power managed to jump up to second from his ninth place start. However, he soon faded and Tony Kanaan moved into second. On lap 6, Kanaan moved past his teammate Dixon for the lead, while Alexander Rossi held third. Rookie Fernando Alonso made a slow start, but quickly began moving his way back up to sixth by lap 19. As pit stops neared, Dixon began to slip down the order, losing second to Rossi and third to Ed Carpenter. The first round of stops came at lap 29, with Kanaan being the first of the leaders to pit. After the sequence, however, Carpenter had moved into the lead, with Rossi second, Alonso third, Kanaan fourth, and Takuma Sato fifth. During the cycle, Jay Howard ran out of fuel, placing him several laps off the pace.
The Andretti Autosport teammates Rossi and Alonso soon dispatched Carpenter, and on lap 37 Alonso moved into the lead. The two dueled for the lead, with Rossi taking back the lead on lap 43, before Alonso returned the favor on lap 48.
On the 53rd lap of the race, Jay Howard drifted wide in turn 1 after being passed by Ryan Hunter-Reay, sending him into the wall.Howard’s car drifted across the track after the impact and straight into the path of Scott Dixon. Dixon’s car was launched off the back of Howard’s, sending Dixon into an airborne flip, before crashing down on top of the turn 2 inside wall and piercing a hole in the catch fencing. The force of the crash ripped nearly the entire rear assembly from Dixon’s machine. Miraculously, neither Dixon nor Howard were injured in the incident. However, extensive repairs were needed for the catch fencing, forcing the race to be red flagged. After roughly 20 minutes of repair work, cars were fired back up and the race resumed under caution with Fernando Alonso still in the lead after subsequent yellow flag pit stops. During the caution, Hélio Castroneves was forced to make repairs to his car after taking minor damage in his attempt to avoid Dixon’s car, forcing him back to 22nd.
When racing finally resumed, Alonso held the lead over his teammates Rossi and Takuma Sato. On lap 61, Rossi returned to the lead, while Sato and Ryan Hunter-Reay both moved past Alonso for position. On lap 65, Sato moved into the lead for the first time of the race. Two laps later came the race’s second caution period, as Conor Daly lost control of his car in turn 3 and crashed into the outside wall while trying to make a pass. In the midst of the wreck, Jack Harvey spun attempting to avoid Daly’s debris, sending him into the inside wall in the North “short-chute,” taking him out of the race as well. During the caution, Castroneves was assessed a drive-through penalty for jumping the previous restart.
The next restart saw Rossi move back around Sato for the lead, while both Hunter-Reay and Tony Kanaan moved around Sato in the following laps to move themselves into second and third respectively. This green flag run was short lived, though, as caution flew once again on lap 81 as a winglett from Marco Andretti’s car broke off and landed on the course on the front straight. The majority of the field elected to pit during the caution, with Hunter-Reay leading Rossi and Alonso out of the pit lane. However, Will Power, Max Chilton, and Hélio Castroneves elected to stay out having made pit stops only six laps earlier during the previous caution, thus placing the trio at the head of the race.
The restart saw Chilton immediately snag the lead away from Power, but by lap 86, those that had pitted during the caution returned to the head of the field. Power began to fall back, while Castroneves and Chilton remained toward the front end of the field. On lap 96, Castroneves moved into the lead of the race after passing Hunter-Reay, while Kanaan moved back into the top five after passing his teammate Chilton.
On lap 104, Castroneves, still off sequence from the previous caution, surrendered the lead to make a pit stop, opening up the cycle of green flag stops while handing the lead back to Hunter-Reay. The majority of the field came in around lap 110, with Hunter-Reay resuming the lead with a margin over three seconds to his teammate Rossi. Alonso, Castroneves, and Power rounded out the top five. The gaps were erased on lap 122, when Buddy Lazier lost control of his car in turn 2 and hit the wall, bringing an end to the former winner’s day. During the ensuing caution, Sage Karam’s race came to an end when a dead battery caused him to grind to a halt on course.
Racing resumed on lap 129, with Hunter-Reay ahead of Alonso and Rossi. One lap later, though, Alonso moved back into the lead of the race. No sooner was the pass complete when caution waved again, this time for debris on the front straight. The brief caution ended on lap 135, with Alonso and Hunter-Reay switching the lead back and forth before Alonso won out on lap 136. However, pre-race concerns about Honda reliability came to fruition that same lap, as Hunter-Reay’s engine suddenly began to smoke on the back straight before slowing and coming to a halt just before the pit entrance. Caution once again waved. Most leaders pitted under this period, Alonso leading the field off pit lane. Rossi, however, suffered major fueling issues, dropping him down outside the top 20. Several drivers elected not to pit during the period, including Max Chilton, Charlie Kimball, J. R. Hildebrand, James Davison, and Ed Jones.
The restart saw Kimball grab the lead from Chilton, but caution waved near immediately, as Ed Carpenter did a half spin and punched a hole in the sidepod of Mikhail Aleshin’s car, breaking Carpenter’s front wing and sending debris across the track in turn 1. Racing resumed on lap 147, with Chilton quickly moving back around Kimball. On lap 149, Graham Rahal’s hope of Indy victory was dashed when a deflating tire forced him to pit under green.
With the race drawing to its closing stages, Hélio Castroneves began moving back up the field, and by lap 151 moved into fourth, while James Davison moved into second ahead of him. Further back, Takuma Sato began moving back toward the front, moving to eighth by the end of lap 163. On lap 166, Chilton made what would be his final pit stop, moving James Davison to the lead. Davison, by leading a lap, became the first driver since Tom Sneva in the 1980 Indianapolis 500 to lead laps after starting last. Caution flew nearly immediately after this, as Charlie Kimball’s engine gave up in similar fashion to Hunter-Reay’s.At the same time, rookie Zach Veach rolled to a halt on the back straight, his day done as well. Nearly the entire field pitted during the caution, with Ed Jones and Castroneves leading the charge off pit lane. However, having just made a green flag stop, Chilton resumed the lead of the race. The running order was now Chilton, Jones, Castroneves, Davison, and Sato.
Racing resumed with Chilton in control, but Castroneves began to duel with Jones for second. Behind them, Sato moved to fourth after passing Davison. Eventually, Sato managed to pass both Castroneves and Jones, allowing him to persue Chilton ahead. Behind them, other Honda cars began attempting to move forward, but on lap 179, Fernando Alonso (then running 7th) fell out of the race as his engine failed coming down the front straight; the third Honda failure of the race.Caution once again bunched up the field.
Racing resumed on lap 184, with Castroneves managing to take third away from Jones. Just behind, chaos erupted in the field when Davison and Oriol Servià made contact in turn 1 triggering a multi-car pile-up that involved Davison, Servia, Will Power, James Hinchcliffe, and Josef Newgarden. Of the five, only Newgarden was able to resume, but only after losing several laps.
Racing resumed with 11 laps to go with Chilton maintaining his lead over Sato. On lap 192, Castroneves was able to make a pass on Sato for second. One lap later, he managed to move around Chilton, placing the Brazilian in the lead of the race. However, Sato passed Chilton shortly thereafter and, one lap later, moved around Castroneves to take the lead. Castroneves made one last attempt to pass Sato with three laps to go, but was ultimately unable to catch back up to Sato. Takuma Sato took victory by just 0,211 seconds over Castroneves, while Jones came across the line in third. By taking the win, Sato became both the first driver from Japan and the first driver from Asia to take victory in the 500. It also marked the first time since 2011 that the winner of the race came from the first three rows. The victory was the third in four years for the Andretti Autosport team