Josef Newgarden won his first Indy 500 championship on Sunday. Credit: James Gilbert/Getty Images

(CNN) -- Josef Newgarden won the 107th race of the Indianapolis 500 in a thrilling finish Sunday after three crashes in the final 16 laps. The American driver overtook last year's winner, Marcus Ericsson, on the final lap.

A trio of red-flagged crashes set up a dramatic finish during the race.

When the checkered flag finally flew, it was Newgarden who earned his first Indy 500 victory, but getting there required a lot of drama.

In a terrifying scene with 16 laps to go, Felix Rosenqvist broke loose and slid into the wall. When Kyle Kirkwood tried to stop Rosenqvist from turning, he hit the corner of Rosenqvist's car.

Kirkwood's car crashed into the wall, flipped over and slid to a stop on the roof with sparks. The race went to red flag, but none of the drivers were seriously injured.


In a terrifying twist, Kirkwood's rear wheel came loose from its safety strap in the crash, jumped the fence and flew over the crowded grandstand, causing spectators to duck for cover.

The tire fell in a parking lot and damaged at least one car, but no injuries were reported in the incident, according to the NBC broadcast.

Josef Newgarden celebrates after winning the 107th Indianapolis 500 race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Credit: Marc Lebryk//USA Today/Reuters

Eight laps later, Pato O'Ward, Simon Pagenaud and Agustín Canapino were involved in a strong crash that brought another red flag.

With four laps to go and Newgarden leading, there was another crash on restart right at the start and finish line involving Benjamin Pedersen, Ed Carpenter and Graham Rahal, and the race was again marked with a red flag.

Ericsson passed Newgarden on the restart moments before the caution flag went off, meaning Ericsson would be at the front of the line for the final restart of the race.

The green flag waved again with one lap to go, and Ericsson initially extended its lead over chasing Newgarden, but the latter caught Ericsson and overtook him immediately to regain the lead.

It was smooth sailing from there to the finish line for Newgarden, who slid through the fence to celebrate among the spectators before heading into victory lane to receive the winner's traditional bottle of milk.

CNN's Eric Levenson, Ronald Issy, Thomas Schlachter and Don Riddell contributed to this report.