O’Ward surges late for first-ever IndyCar win in Race 2 at Texas

The bravest driver in the NTT IndyCar Series showed why he was Arrow McLaren SP’s first choice to lead the team into a new future as Pato O’Ward raced his way to Victory Lane on Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway. The day will also be remembered for a giant Lap 1 crash that took out […]

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The bravest driver in the NTT IndyCar Series showed why he was Arrow McLaren SP’s first choice to lead the team into a new future as Pato O’Ward raced his way to Victory Lane on Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway.
The day will also be remembered for a giant Lap 1 crash that took out 25-percent of the field before they reached the green flag.

Massive crash hinders start of second Texas IndyCar raceInside CART’s 2001 Texas debacle: Silent runningHarvey, Rahal at odds after Texas Race 1
On happier fronts, the win was a first for the 21-year-old Mexican, the first for the AMSP relationship which started in 2020, the first for the team since July 8, 2018, and the eighth since the team was formed as Sam Schmidt Motorsports in 2001.
“Finally, man!” said the Mexican, who spent many years growing up in the Lone Star state and put his attacking driving style to good use with the breakthrough performance. “Everybody at this team has been doing such a good job. I couldn’t be happier. [Winning in] Texas; it’s close to my heart.”
It was what the rest of the NTT IndyCar paddock expected coming into the new season, and with a pole to open the year at Round 1 and fightback drive to finish P4, a P3 in the first Texas race, and today’s win, O’Ward and AMSP hold P2 in the championship as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway beckons.

For the first time in his career, @PatricioOWard is an #INDYCAR winner.
Hear what this moment is like for the @ArrowMcLarenSP driver at @TXMotorSpeedway.#INDYCAR // #XPEL375 pic.twitter.com/oshK0O2P6n
— NTT INDYCAR SERIES (@IndyCar) May 2, 2021

And if you watched the majority of the 248-lap contest on the 1.5-mile oval, there was nothing to suggest the 2018 Indy Lights champion would score his maiden win until things got fun in the closing stages. Saturday’s race winner and Sunday Polesitter Scott Dixon held a firm grip on the weekend until he made his final pit stop on Lap 187; a stunning in- and out-lap by O’Ward, coupled with a speedy pit stop by the crew of the No. 5 Chevrolet, brought him closer into contention.
When AMSP teammate Felix Rosenqvist lost a wheel and triggered a caution period on Lap 190, the lead group was shuffled as Team Penske’s a few laps after Dixon and the chasing Graham Rahal pitted before calling in Josef Newgarden. The decision paid off as the Penske driver would eventually inherit P1.
Once the action resumed on Lap 199 and the running order settled down, O’Ward probed and jabbed at Newgarden while Rahal and Dixon slowly lost contact with the dueling leaders. Despite receiving instructions to cruise behind the two-time IndyCar champion, youthful exuberance gave way to strategist Taylor Kiel’s command and O’Ward took P1 on Lap 226.
A day of flying around his rivals on the inside and outside—risking calamity as his No. 5 Chevy wiggled below the white line and up on the unloved second lane—offered some of the only thrills the weekend-long procession had to offer.

PatoOOOOMMMGGGGG!!!
Can @PatricioOWard hold on for his first @IndyCar win?
📺: NBCSN – https://t.co/9qb2zSIL83 📲: INDYCAR Mobile powered by NTT DATA – https://t.co/vyuISIgHnX#INDYCAR // #XPEL375 pic.twitter.com/ptWI0gLtrS
— NTT INDYCAR SERIES (@IndyCar) May 2, 2021

Powerless to respond, Newgarden’s No. 2 Chevy trailed home 1.2s behind at the checkered flag, giving the Bowtie a 1-2 after Honda won the first three races, and Team Penske its fifth podium of the year. Rahal, 4.4s adrift in the No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda, put in another impressive performance at TMS to earn his best result of 2021 in P3, and in P4, Dixon led 163 laps but didn’t have the speed to lead down the stretch.
“Chevrolet is always top notch,” Newgarden said “We were in the catbird seat there. We didn’t have the speed in the end. I don’t know what was causing that, but I’m really proud of the team. Second place is a good day for us.”
Thanks to O’Ward, who joins his former Indy Lights teammate Colton Herta in becoming an IndyCar race winner, the combined Genesys 300 and XPEL 375 ended with something new to celebrate as the dawn of a new era begins.
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