Pagenaud was triumphant Sunday afternoon after driving 200 laps around the 2.5-mile track, equaling 500 miles.
“We did it, yes!” he exulted after the race.
He had earned the top qualifying spot with a speed of 229.992 mph and led for 116 laps. Alexander Rossi finished in second place after he and Pagenaud swapped the lead several times in the race’s final laps. Takuma Sato finished third.
Rene Thomas was the last Frenchman to win the race, pulling off a victory in 1914.
Pagenaud drives for the team of Roger Penske, who won his 18th Indy 500 as a team owner.
Several other drivers had sought to cement their names in history during the 103rd running ofIndyCar’s flagship’s race.
Helio Castroneves had three Indy wins to his name. A fourth win at the Brickyard would have put him among elite company alongside A.J. Foyt, Al Unser Sr. and Rick Mears as the only drivers to win the coveted Borg-Warner Trophy four times.
Will Power, the 2018 Indy 500 winner had hoped to become one of only six drivers, including Castroneves and Unser, to win back-to-back races.
For the first time, NBC aired “the greatest spectacle in racing” with Mike Tirico, former NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. and eight-time Indy 500 starter Danica Patrick calling the race.
CNN’s Darran Simon and Kevin Dotson contributed to this report.