In one of the most competitive 500s to that point, Johnny Thomson, Pat Flaherty, Jim Rathmann and Rodger Ward took turns leading over the first 250 miles.

Then in rapid succession, Flaherty crashed and Thomson had mechanical trouble. Ward subsequently pulled away to a 23.27-second victory over Rathmann.

Ward was in his first year driving the Leader Card Special for Bob Wilke and A.J. Watson in a partnership that came to be known as the "Three Flying Ws." They also won that year's USAC national championship.

Roll bars and fireproof uniforms became mandatory. But during practice, Bob Cortner was killed and Jerry Unser fatally burned in separate accidents.

Rodger Ward receives a kiss and the Borg Warner Trophy in 1959.