Making a move with 23 to go, Pato O’Ward passed then race leader Josef Newgarden going into Turn 3 for his first career NTT IndyCar Series victory and held off Newgarden by 1.2443 seconds. O’Ward started fourth based on championship driver standings following Saturday night’s race.
“Finally man! That was a long race, but we had so much pace in this Arrow McLaren No. 5,” O’Ward said. “I have to thank Vuse, Team Chevy, Mission Foods and everybody on this team who have been doing such a good job. And we bounced back from last weekend and we got a podium yesterday, we had pace and we got the job done today. I couldn’t be happier for another group of guys.”
However, the victory wasn’t all that easy for the Mexican driver. Saturday night’s winner, Scott Dixon, was on the pole and was looking to sweep the weekend and continue his dominance. Though, when the green flag flew for the start, there was a major crash on the frontstretch where many drivers were taken out of the field.
The accident started when the No. 51 rookie of Pietro Fittipaldi spun into the back of the No. 14 of Sebastien Bourdais. Bourdais was then turned into the No. 27 of Alexander Rossi which then caused a multi-chain event that saw the No. 59 of Conor Daly hit the wall hard and flip upside down multiple times before coming to a rest in the grass. Thankfully, Daly and all drivers were okay from the Lap 1 incident.
After spending 17 laps under caution, the restart came on Lap 18. Like Saturday night’s race, the top two were controlled by Dixon and Alex Palou through the first round of stops. On Lap 71, Dixon pitted from the lead for four tires and fuel while Palou stayed out a few laps later before pitting on Lap 73.
Even though there were varying strategies, Dixon cycled back into the lead on Lap 80 and held the gap by .5708 seconds over Palou. But, the complexion of the race was changed when a caution flew on Lap 117 for the No. 60 of Jack Harvey who had smoke coming from the back of his car. After the stops, Dixon was still the leader but Will Power and Graham Rahal gained three positions moving into second and third, respectively.
On Lap 140, Rahal eventually passed the dominant Dixon to lead his first few laps since St. Petersburg of last year. Rahal would stay out front of Dixon until Lap 154 when Dixon regained the lead once more and kept Rahal at bay.
The final stop for both Dixon and Rahal came on Lap 186 and saw Rahal close up on the back of Dixon’s bumper for an advantage on the out lap. At Lap 188, O’Ward stayed out a few laps longer and then made his pit stop.
A yellow on Lap 190 for the No. 7 of Felix Rosenqvist slowed the field down, but jumbled up the running order as Sato, Newgarden, and O’Ward were the top three. Rahal was fourth while Dixon was fifth.
Following the Lap 197 restart, Sato held the lead briefly before he was passed by the No. 2 of Josef Newgarden heading into Turn 1. O’Ward followed closely behind Newgarden as he too passed Sato for second.
It was clear that the game was on at that point. Lap after lap, O’Ward was closing in on Newgarden waiting for his moment to strike. His moment came with 23 to go when O’Ward charged hard on the outside of Newgarden in Turn 3.
From there, O’Ward hit his points and was consistent and stretched the gap ever so slightly over Newgarden. When the checkered flag flew, O’Ward won his first NTT IndyCar Series race in just his 26th start and became the first Mexican driver since Adrian Fernandez in 2004 to win an IndyCar race.
“Man, I admire Adrian a lot,” O’Ward continued. “It’s very special to me to represent my country. I’m the only Mexican driver racing here. I’m a competitive being. I like to win. I like to be at the front. I like to compete. I don’t think there’s anything better than putting your flag as high as you can. I think Dixon will say that about his country, so on. I’m very proud of what we accomplished and really happy that we got this all together in a way.”
By winning at Texas, O’Ward will be able to test an F1 car at Abu Dhabi toward the end of the year. This is a result of a bet made between him and McLaren CEO Zak Brown that if O’Ward won a race this year, the two agreed there would be plans in place for a test and now O’Ward is a NTT IndyCar Series winner.
O’Ward led twice for 25 laps en route to victory.
There were three cautions for 35 laps and 12 lead changes among nine different leaders.
Josef Newgarden, Graham Rahal, Scott Dixon, Colton Herta, Simon Pagenaud, Alex Palou, Scott McLaughlin, Rinus VeeKay, and Ryan Hunter-Reay rounded out the Top 10 finishers.
Official Results following the XPEL 375 at Texas Motor Speedway.
- Pato O’Ward, led 25 laps
- Josef Newgarden, led 25 laps
- Graham Rahal, led 13 laps
- Scott Dixon, led 163 laps
- Colton Herta
- Simon Pagenaud
- Alex Palou, led three laps
- Scott McLaughlin
- Rinus VeeKay, led five laps
- Ryan Hunter-Reay
- Ed Carpenter, led one lap
- Marcus Ericsson
- Will Power, led one lap
- Takuma Sato, led 12 laps, 1 lap down
- Tony Kanaan, 2 laps down
- Felix Rosenqvist, 2 laps down
- Jack Harvey, OUT, Mechanical
- James Hinchcliffe, OUT, Mechanical
- Sebastien Bourdais, OUT, Contact
- Alexander Rossi, OUT, Contact
- Pietro Fittipaldi, OUT, Contact
- Ed Jones, OUT, Contact
- Dalton Kellett, OUT, Contact
- Conor Daly, OUT, Contact
Up Next: The NTT IndyCar Series will head to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the rest of May, where series drivers will be competing on Saturday May 15 at the Indianapolis Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Road Course live on NBC at 2:30 p.m./ET.