O’Ward seizes maiden IndyCar victory at the Xpel 375

Photo credit: Chris Jones/IndyCar

A late surge propelled Pato O’Ward past Josef Newgarden to claim his first career NTT IndyCar Series win at the XPEL 375 at the Texas Motor Speedway.

The race got off to an audacious start as Pietro Fittipaldi’s contact with Sebastien Bourdais triggered a six-car accident. Conor Daly took a light flip as he launched before gently rolling back onto his wheels in the infield grass.

The chaos eliminated Bourdais, Daly, Dalton Kellett, Alexander Rossi and Ed Jones. Tony Kanaan and James Hinchcliffe continued after their respective crews repaired their cars under the 20 Lap caution

Scott Dixon resumed his blistering pace from last night once the race got going as teammate Alex Palou reared him in second place.

The Ganassi duo built up some distance on the rest of the pack led by Jack Harvey, Will Power and Pato O’Ward. That trio put on the best battle for the majority stint with O’Ward and Power slicing and dicing for position.

O’Ward attempted a wooly pass in Turns 3 and 4 on the 2014 series champ and the pair saved their cars after nearly losing control.

Dixon kicked off the first pit sequence for the leaders on Lap 71 with O’Ward and Simon Pagenaud trailing behind him. Palou, Josef Newgarden and Felix Rosenqvist followed suit a lap later.

Newgarden’s quick in and out lap sprang him from seventh to fourth ahead of Power and O’Ward with his sights set on Harvey for third.

He wasted little time passing the Britton who sooner fell into the clutches of O’Ward while Dixon and Palou resumed their gap on the field.

O’Ward soon made his way around Harvey as well just as Harvey hit a mechanical issue which brought out the yellow and took him out of contention.

The caution incited the field to pit and shuffled the order behind Dixon as Power and Graham Rahal came out ahead of Newgarden and O’Ward. Palou dropped to seventh.

O’Ward forced his way into second for a few laps before surrendering it back to Rahal on Lap 136,.

Rahal was determined to do one better as he made the first on-track pass on Dixon of the weekend to take the lead on Lap 140.

Fuel mileage came into play as Rahal slowed his pace and surrendered the lead to Dixon on Lap 153 as the race’s pace decreased as the field worked their fuel mileage.

Dixon and Rahal pitted together along with Palou on Lap 186 as O’Ward stopped a lap later while Newgarden stretched his mileage to Lap 189.

The caution flew on Lap 190 for an errant wheel coming from Rosneqvist’s No. 7 Chevrolet. Newgarden ended up scored in second behind an off-strategy Takuma Sato as the race resumed on Lap 197.

The off-sequence Sato held on for five laps before Newgarden took over the point while O’Ward moved into second shortly thereafter.

A determined O’Ward put Newgarden in his crosshairs and set up for a pass on Lap 225. The Arrow McLaren SP driver moved outside in Turns 1 and 2 before setting up for Turns 3 and 4.

He pulled off a clean cross under move and took the lead.

With fuel issues now moot, the Mexican driver went full bore from there and took the checkered flag 1.244 seconds ahead of Newgarden.

“That was a long race, but we had so much pace in this Arrow McLaren No. 5,” said the 2018 Indy Lights champion. “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.”

Newgarden took his second podium of the season to date while Rahal scored his first podium since the Indianapolis 500 last August.

Dixon settled for fourth after leading a race high 163 laps as Colton Herta soldiered to a fifth place finish.

Alex Palou ended up sixth while last night’s runner up Scott McLaughlin landed in eighth followed by Rinus VeeKay in ninth and Ryan Hunter-Reay netted a tenth place finish after starting 21st.

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