Mexico's O'Ward wins IndyCar Alabama title

·2 min read
Mexican driver Pato O'Ward won Sunday's IndyCar Grand Prix of Alabama (AFP/Sean Gardner) (Sean Gardner)

Mexico's Pato O'Ward seized the lead with 29 laps remaining and held off defending champion Alex Palou of Spain down the stretch to win Sunday's IndyCar Grand Prix of Alabama.

O'Ward, who turns 23 on Friday, captured his third career IndyCar victory after triumphs last year at Texas and Detroit.

"I was tired of being 10th, 11th and fifth," O'Ward said. "I said, 'Let's get a win so we can claw ourselves back into the championship fight.'"

Palou grabbed the season points lead with his third podium in four starts despite settling for second by 0.98 of a second over 90 laps on the 2.3-mile, 17-turn Barber Motorsports Park road course at Birmingham, Alabama.

Dutch 21-year-old pole sitter Rinus VeeKay was third behind O'Ward and Palou followed by Australian Will Power and New Zealanders Scott Dixon and Scott McLaughlin.

VeeKay led through the first 60 laps and was ahead of O'Ward when they made their last pit stops on lap 61.

But with both cars just back on the course, O'Ward made the pivotal pass of VeeKay on the outside of turn five.

Defending IndyCar champion Palou came out of his final pit stop two laps later in second but could not overtake O'Ward over the final laps.

"We were fighting for the win. This is the chance," O'Ward said of his passing VeeKay. "It was so tough to follow.

"I knew if I would have the opportunity it was right then and there. I got by him. I knew if I could get into clean air we could control the thing."

It was the fourth victory in as many races this season for Chevrolet-powered cars.

The next race will be the Grand Prix of Indianapolis road course event on May 14 just before the start of practice for the Indianapolis 500 oval classic to be run on May 29.