FORT WORTH, TEXAS - MAY 02: Pato O'Ward of Mexico, driver of the #5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NTT IndyCar Series XPEL 375 at Texas Motor Speedway on May 02, 2021 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Pato O’Ward broke through for his first NTT IndyCar Series victory Sunday, taking the lead from Josef Newgarden with 23 laps remaining and driving away at Texas Motor Speedway.

The Arrow McLaren SP driver, who finished fourth in the points standings last year, won by 1.2443 seconds over Newgarden, who was trying to win after inheriting the lead on a fuel strategy overcut call.

O’Ward, who turns 22 Thursday, becomes the third driver in his 20s to win this season, joining Colton Herta, 21, and Alex Palou, 24, who became a first-time winner in the season opener by taking advantage of a tactical miscue by O’Ward’s team.

The opposite was true Sunday for O’Ward and McLaren as the Mexican driver zoomed past Newgarden and cooly built his lead over the closing laps in his No. 5 Dallara Chevrolet.

“Oh, finally man!” O’Ward told pit reporter Marty Snider on NBCSN. “That was a long race, but we had so much pace in this Arrow McLaren No. 5. 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.”

O’Ward born and lived in Mexico until he was 11 and then moved to San Antonio, Texas, where he lived through middle and high school before moving to Indianapolis last year.

The last Mexican driver to win in IndyCar competition was Adrian Fernandez at Auto Club Speedway in 2004.


“It’s Texas; it’s very close to my heart, and I have lived here for many years,” O’Ward said. “Many Mexicans are out there in the grandstands, so thank you very much. So happy, finally!”

O’Ward’s previous best finish was second three times, most recently at St. Petersburg last October. His victory was the first for Arrow McLaren SP since July 2018 at Iowa Speedway with James Hinchcliffe.

It was the first victory of the season for Chevrolet, which swept the top two spots, and the first for a non-Penske Chevy in nearly five years (the most recent was Scott Dixon at Watkins Glen International in 2016).

“I didn’t have the speed at the end,” Newgarden said. “I don’t know what it was. I don’t know what was causing that, we’ll figure it out, but we did a great job, really proud of the team.”


Graham Rahal finished third, followed by Dixon (who won Saturday night in the opener of the doubleheader weekend at Texas) and Herta.

Simon Pagenaud, Alex Palou, Scott McLaughlin, Rinus VeeKay and Ryan Hunter-Reay rounded out the top 10.

O’Ward’s victory also means that he will be collecting on a bet from McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown, who promised a test in the team’s Formula One car after the season if his young star could win a race.


The start of the race was marred by a crash at the green flag that eliminated several drivers and left Alexander Rossi openly questioning IndyCar’s decision to set the field by points.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here