Patricio O’Ward picks up first IndyCar win at Texas

The 2021 NTT IndyCar Series returned to Texas Motor Speedway for the XPEL 375 less than 24 hours after Scott Dixon claimed his fifth-career win at the track on Saturday. In a race where Dixon started on the pole and dominated the first half, Patricio O’Ward sped past the leaders and held off Josef Newgarden to pick up his first career win in IndyCar.

The race got off to a violent start as right when the green flag was raised, Pietro Fittipaldi crashed in Sebastien Bourdais and it caused a huge wreck on the backstretch. Fittipladi, Bourdais suffered huge damage and other drivers such as Conor Daly, who was flipped upside down, and Alexander Rossi suffered damage in the wreck. This brought out a yellow flag before a green flag lap was even run.

After 19 caution laps, the XPEL 375 went green and Jack Harvey had a strong start, pushing his way from fifth to third place, passing Patricio O’Ward and Will Power. Scott Dixon held his lead as pit stops began on lap 72. Josef Newgarden, who was running in sixth place behind O’Ward and Power, overtook both of them for fourth place after their respective pit stops with O’Ward finally getting past Power for fifth place. Newgarden passed Harvey for third place on lap 83.

On lap 116, O’Ward passed Harvey for fourth place, then Harvey’s engine started smoking, forcing him to retire his car. It brought out the caution, prompting the leaders to come down pit road. The leaderboard shuffled as Power and Graham Rahal moved in second and third place with Newgarden in fourth place.

When the race resumed on lap 128, Rahal, Power and O’Ward shuffled between second through fourth place. On lap 142, Rahal, who was running in second place, blazed his way past Dixon for the lead. 12 laps later, Dixon retook the lead with Rahal and O’Ward running in second and third place.

As pit stops began on lap 187, O’Ward and Rahal overtook Dixon. However, a caution came out for Felix Rosenqvist two laps later, the same lap Newgarden pitted, allowing him to overtake the leaders.

On the restart, Newgarden trailed Takuma Sato, who did not pit during the caution. However, he held his advantage and passed Sato with 47 laps left in the race. O’Ward ran in second as Power was shuffled to the outside lane, causing him to lose his grip and hit the wall.

O’Ward took the lead from Newgarden with 24 laps to go. Once he took the lead, he had all the clean air and cruised to his first-career win in IndyCar. Zak Brown, the CEO of McLaren, promised him a Formula 1 test drive after the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix if he won a race in IndyCar this season, which he just did on Sunday.

Newgarden finished second, vaulting him to third in the driver standings. Rahal finished third to round out the podium.

The last two race winners, Dixon and Colton Herta, finished fourth and fifth. Dixon led the majority of the race, but lacked the long-run speed to maintain his position and finished outside the podium. However, with his third top-five finish of the season, Dixon still leads the driver standings.

Simon Pagenaud finished sixth and Alex Palou, who ran second behind Dixon for the first half of the race, finished seventh after getting shuffled back on restarts.

Scott McLaughlin, who finished second in Saturday’s race at Texas, followed that up with an eighth-place finish on his second-career race on an oval track.

Rinus VeeKay and Ryan Hunter-Reay rounded out the top 10.

The 2021 NTT IndyCar Series will head to Indianapolis for the GMR Grand Prix on May 15.

Race results:

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