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.
Next up on the Texas Motor Speedway calendar is the NASCAR All-Star Race weekend. The on-track activity begins June 12 with a doubleheader, opening with the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series SpeedyCash.com 220 (12 p.m. CT on FS1, MRN, and 95.9 The Ranch) followed at 3 p.m. CT by the NASCAR Xfinity Series Alsco Uniforms 250 (FS1, PRN, 95.9 The Ranch). Then, on Sunday, June 13, is the NASCAR Open (5 p.m. CT on FS1, MRN and 95.9 The Ranch) followed by the $1 million NASCAR All-Star Race (7 p.m. CT on FS1, MRN and 95.9 The Ranch).
Tickets for Texas Motor Speedway’s 2021 major event season, including the June 13 NASCAR All-Star Race, are on sale now at texasmotorspeedway.com.
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