Pato O’Ward’s celebrated this 50th NTT IndyCar Series win in style with a win in the HyVee Salute to Farmers 300 at the Iowa Speedway.
The race fell into O’Ward’s lap as Josef Newgarden’s bid for two in a row turned disastrous on Lap 231 when he crashed while leading the race.
The victory brings O’Ward back into the title fight just 36 points out of the lead.
Will Power set the pace early as he led the race’s opening Laps with yesterday’s winner Josef Newgarden closely trailing him. Power’s lead flexed around half a second while Pato O’Ward and Takuma Sato filled out the Top 4.
The Penske pair encountered lapped traffic around Lap 40 which prompted Newgarden to make an unsuccessful pass for the lead but quickly fade thereafter.
The action was on for Chip Ganassi Racing in the back with Marcus Ericsson leading the charge ahead of Jimmie Johnson and Scott Dixon. Ericsson steadily worked into eighth around Lap 32 while Johnson and Dixon inched forward as well.
Power and Newgarden dashed into the pits together on Lap 65 and drag raced off pit lane with Power holding the advantage in the lead as pitstops cycled around.
O’Ward held onto third while Johnson moved up to fourth aided by pitting before the leaders on Lap 58 and making up laps with fresher tires. Ericsson continued his march into fifth place ahead.
The gap between Power and Newgarden shrank when the pair lapped traffic. Power found difficulty working past the lapped car of Romain Grosjean which allowed Newgarden to motor to the lead in turn two on Lap 84.
Newgarden resumed his cruise control performance from yesterday and lapped up to fifth place Jimmie Johnson as the race crested the 100-lap mark. That left Newgarden, Power, O’Ward and Ericsson as the sole drivers on the lead lap.
The longest green run of the day came to an end on Lap 120 when Kyle Kirkwood slid into the Turn 1 wall after getting lapped by Newgarden.
Newgarden easily kept the lead under pitstops while the majority of the field got back on the leader lap as the race restarted on Lap 132.
Newgarden blitzed the field on the restart while Power and O’Ward spared for the second position for a handful of laps with Power holding onto the post as Newgarden stayed up front.
The two-time NTT IndyCar Series champion maintained a steady, uncontested gap over Power as the laps clicked by with O’Ward Ericsson and Dixon rounding out the top five as halfway mark came and went.
The pair pitted together once more on Lap 194 with Newgarden easily winning the race off pit road.
Newgarden held onto the top spot unobstructed with Power a distant second behind with seemingly nothing for him. That all changed on Lap 231 when Newgarden suffered a mechanical issue in the Apex of Turn 1 and 2 and crashed into the wall.
That promoted O’Ward to the lead who then brought the field to the pits for the final time on Lap 239. He held the top spot with Power in arrears followed by Dixon, Scott McLaughlin and Jimmie Johnson.
O’Ward blitzed Power on the restart as the action picked up behind them as first Scott McLaughlin overhauled Dixon for third.
Jimmie Johnson took the outside line to snag fifth from Ericsson. Johnson held the top lane with cold tires with a couple hairy moments as Ericcson reclaimed the spot.
The pair remained in close quarters throughout the stint before Johnson took the spot for good on with less than 10 to go. O’Ward meanwhile ballooned his lead and never faltered to take the win 4.24s ahead.
Power claimed his second podium of the weekend in second while McLaughlin made it a Team Penske 2-3 on the podium.
Dixon led a Chip Ganassi Racing 4-5-6 sweep followed by Johnson and Ericsson, who keeps the points lead by 10 over Power.
Newgarden’s shunt dropped him to fourth in the standings tied with Dixon while O’Ward moved up to fifth.