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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 this week, 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, who lived several years as a teenager in Texas, told pit reporter Marty Snider on NBCSN. “That was a long race, but we had so much pace in the Arrow McLaren No. 5. We had so much pace and got the job done today.”
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.
The last Mexican driver to win in IndyCar competition was Adrian Fernandez at Auto Club Speedway in 2004.
It was the first victory of the season for Chevrolet, which swept the top two spots.
“I didn’t have the speed at the end,” Newgarden told pit reporter Dave Burns on NBCSN. “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 Scott Dixon (who won Saturday night) and Herta.
Simon Pagenaud, Alex Palou, Scott McLaughlin, Rinus VeeKay and Ryan Hunter-Reay rounded out the top 10.
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.
STORY WILL BE UPDATED
Pato O’Ward beats Josef Newgarden at Texas Motor Speedway for first IndyCar victory originally appeared on NBCSports.com