Pato O’Ward claimed his second IndyCar win on Sunday, and he did so in dramatic fashion by charging through the field as the laps wound down.
When the second round of the Detroit GP double-header was restarted for the final time with only seven laps remaining, O’Ward was back in fifth position.
He had climbed to that position from 16th, but did not have much time left to get to the front of the pack.
As soon as the green flag waved, O’Ward pounced. He expertly passed two drivers in the first three corners, and then another on the next lap.
The 22-year-old’s ability to cut through the field on cold tires was not matched by anyone else, so he was asked after the race what the secret was.
“Fast hands,” said O’Ward, smiling. “[The rear end] was wiggly, but I felt like I still had life in the tire available, so I knew I only had one chance to get every single guy.
“I couldn’t spend three chances on Dixon. It had to be one.
“So every time I would pull out or do something, I had to take the risk of pushing the braking zone or getting that mega exit to be able to get in front of them.
“But I was very happy with how I executed it.”
O’Ward’s skill to keep the car under control when the rear tires were constantly breaking loose under acceleration is what allowed him to reach Newgarden in time to make a move for the win.
That pass for the lead with two laps remaining was the most dramatic one yet, with the two leaders touching wheels while side by side on the back straight.
There were no hard feelings, however, and both drivers felt the pass was on the limit, but not over it.
“Yeah, [Newgarden] was moving me onto the marbles,” explained O’Ward.
“He knew where to put me in order for me not to be able to get him. But I didn’t move, so we kind of both went into each other.
“That straightaway isn’t really straight. It was a good battle. I think it makes it more exciting whenever there’s a little rubbin’.
“I knew I was racing around very professional drivers. Very clean, hard racers. Some of us have been in INDYCAR very little, but these guys are pros.
“I was around people that you can get within less than an inch and race.”