O’WARD EARNS FIRST NTT INDYCAR SERIES VICTORY AT HOME TRACK OF NO LIMITS, TEXAS
A first-lap crash that collected six cars coming to the green flag and what looked for more than half the race to be another Scott Dixon runaway changed dramatically with less than 70 laps remaining and resulted in Patricio “Pato” O’Ward and his No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet leading the final 25 laps of the XPEL 375 at Texas Motor Speedway to earn his first NTT INDYCAR SERIES victory.
O’Ward crossed the finish line 1.2443 seconds ahead of Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden, the 2019 NTT INDYCAR SERIES winner at Texas Motor Speedway who today led twice for 25 laps.
The win was the 21-year-old Mexico native’s first in 26 NTT INDYCAR Series starts and just his second full season of INDYCAR racing. The win makes O’Ward, who turns 22 on May 6, the youngest INDYCAR SERIES winner at The Great American Speedway at 21 years, 11 months and 26 days. The previous youngest winner was Sam Hornish Jr. at 22 years, three months and four days, exactly 100 days older.
“Finally, man,” exclaimed O’Ward. “That was a long race, but we had so much pace in this Arrow McLaren No. 5. 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.”
“It’s Texas, it’s very close to my heart and I have lived here for many years. Many Mexicans are out there in the grandstands, so thank you very much. So happy, finally!
“We got the first win out of the way. This lets us focus on the rest of the championship. I get my Formula 1 test at the end of the year. We feel like we have a good shot at a championship. I love INDYCAR racing.”
The balance of the top 10 were: Graham Rahal (No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda); last night’s Genesys 300 winner Scott Dixon (No. 9 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda); Colton Herta (No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda); Simon Pagenaud (No. 22 Team Penske Chevrolet); Alex Palou (No. 10 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda); Scott McLaughlin (No. 3 Team Penske Chevrolet); Rinus VeeKay (No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet); and Ryan Hunter-Reay (No 28 Andretti Autosport Honda).
The starting grid for the XPEL 375 was set by team entry points after Saturday night’s Genesys 300 at No Limits, Texas. That put Dixon on pole with Palou alongside and Team Penske’s Will Power and O’Ward on the second row.
As the field was coming out of turn four to take the green flag, a multicar accident happened that put Conor Daly upside down skidding through the tri-oval. Also involved and out of the race were Sebastien Bourdais, Alexander Rossi, Pietro Fittipaldi, Ed Jones, and Dalton Kellett.
When racing resumed on Lap 19, the familiar No. 9 of Dixon was out front. The six-time champion would eventually lead three times for a race-high 163 laps but his final lap at the point was 63 laps from the finish.
O’Ward, Team Penske’s Will Power, Newgarden and Rahal Letterman Lanigan’s Takuma Sato swapped the top spot through Lap 201. Newgarden and his team had played what they hoped would be a winning strategy and were back out front from Laps 202 to 224.
But O’Ward was not to be denied and, after taking the lead on Lap 225, never looked back.
There were 12 lead changes among nine drivers and three cautions for 35 laps.
NO BEATING DIXON AS CHAMP WINS SETS RECORDS AT THE GREAT AMERICAN SPEEDWAY
There was a time Scott Dixon wasn’t a big fan of racing at Texas Motor Speedway but you would never know it now as the six-time and reigning NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion earned his second consecutive and fifth overall victory at No Limits, Texas by taking the checkered flag in the Genesys 300.
The New Zealander’s No. 9 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda crossed the finish line 0.2646-of-a-second ahead of fellow Kiwi Scott McLaughlin, the three-time Australian Supercars champion and NTT INDYCAR SERIES rookie who was making his oval track debut in the No. 3 Team Penske Chevrolet. San Antonio resident Patricio “Pato” O’Ward finished third in his No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet.
“It was a bit of a crazy night for us,” Dixon said. “Definitely very tense there at the end. It was kind of cool to be racing a countryman for the last few laps. Fifth win at Texas, baby! That was awesome.
“It feels amazing to be in this position. You just never want it to end. We want to go back-to-back and try to tie Mario tomorrow. I’m sure that’s not exactly what he wants to see. We’ll keep our heads down. It’s extremely tough. This season has been one of the toughest starts, I think, for a lot of us just with how tight the competition is.”
The victory is Dixon’s 51st, putting him just behind Mario Andretti (52) and A.J. Foyt (67) all-time in the series. His fifth Texas Motor Speedway victory breaks a tie with Helio Castroneves for most wins as well as being the first repeat winner in the series’ 33-race history at The Great American Speedway. Dixon’s other three wins came in 2018, 2015 and 2008. The Genesys 300 victory also made it 19 seasons Dixon has earned at least one NTT INDYCAR SERIES victory, breaking a tie with Foyt.
The balance of the top 10 finishers were Alex Palou (No. 10 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet), Graham Rahal (No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda), Josef Newgarden (No. 2 Team Penske Chevrolet), Jack Harvey (No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing Honda), Alexander Rossi (No. 27 Andretti Autosport Honda), Takumo Sato (No. 30 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda), and Simon Pagenaud (No. 22 Team Penske Chevrolet).
Damp conditions throughout the morning and early afternoon cancelled qualifying, setting the starting grid based on the entrant point standings. That put Palou on the point, the No. 12 Team Penske Chevrolet of Will Power to his right and Ganassi teammate Dixon directly behind, with the No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda of Colton Herta on the outside of Row 2.
Palou, who came to Texas with the point lead after two races, led the first two laps before Dixon grabbed the top spot. Dixon maintained a 0.4-of-a-second lead over his teammate after 15 laps and slightly less than that by the time green-flag pit stops began on Lap 53.
The day’s first caution waved just four laps later when Sebastien Bourdais made hard contact with the outside retaining wall after a tap from behind by Newgarden. Newgarden was able to continue but INDYCAR officials deemed the incident to be avoidable and penalized him with a restart at the back of the field.
Dixon continued his run out front before relinquishing the lead back to Palou on Lap 125 during another round of green-flag pit stops. But the No. 9 Honda returned to where it was most comfortable just four laps later.
The evening’s second and final caution slowed the field on Lap 160 when the No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet of Felix Rosenqvist and the No. 29 Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport Honda of James Hinchcliffe made contact in Turn 2, forcing Hinchcliffe hard into the outside wall. It was nearly a mirror image from last year when the two tangled, sending Rosenqvist into the wall and out of the race.
The field returned to green on Lap 175 of 212. McLaughlin lined up directly behind Dixon, with O’Ward and Palou in tow. As the laps counted down, McLaughlin hung tight to the leader but was not able to make a final charge before the checkered flag wave.
There were three lead changes among two drivers and two cautions for 29 laps.