Pato O’Ward Masters Strategy to Win in IndyCar at Barber

Pato O’Ward took the win for Arrow McLaren SP in the IndyCar Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park Sunday. It was an outlap pass that gave him that gives the Mexican his third career win. The race came down to strategy, and Pato’s pass on Rinus Veekay gave him the lead when the pit cycle was over. He led the final 36 laps in a cruise to the finish.

O’Ward said: “Yeah, [team president] Taylor told me ‘This is the win.’ We almost got him in the pit stop, so I thought ‘This is the chance.’ It was so tough to follow just because it’s such a fast and flowing circuit, so I knew if I had the opportunity, it would have been right then and there. So I got on my [push-to-pass] button and got around him, and I knew if we got into clean air we could kind of control the thing. Once we did that, it was a cruise to victory lane.”

O’Ward hadn’t seen Victory Lane since June of last year, and he was congratulatory of his team’s turnaround. “I wanted to do it for these guys,” he said, “for Arrow McLaren SP, for Team Chevy – they’ve swept this year so far – so I think it’s great for them. I was tired of being tenth and eleventh and fifth, so I said, ‘Let’s get a win under our belts so we can claw our way back into the championship fight.'”

Alex Palou finished second, while Rinus Veekay ended up in third. The two-stop strategy those two employed proved superior with three caution laps mid-race. Colton Herta, Marcus Ericsson, Romain Grosjean, Conor Daly, Jack Harvey, Kyle Kirkwood, and Helio Castroneves all took the three-stop option. Grosjean finished best of the group in seventh.

Marcus Ericsson, who finished twelfth, said “we picked a two-stop strategy and it really didn’t work out today. We were stuck in traffic a bit too much to make it work. Bit unfortunate with how the race played out, but got some decent points and we’ll try again in a couple of weeks.”

Romain Grosjean had a run-in with Graham Rahal late in the race, when the Frenchman hit Rahal twice on corner exit, something Rahal felt was intentional. He said over the radio about Grosjean: “That guy’s a punk, that guy hit me on purpose.” Rahal ended up running out of fuel and Grosjean brought the car home in sixth.

Cla Driver Team Laps Gap Pits Retirement
1 Patricio O’Ward  Arrow McLaren SP 90 2
2  Alex Palou  Chip Ganassi Racing 90 0.980 2
3  Rinus van Kalmthout  Ed Carpenter Racing 90 12.481 2
4  Will Power  Team Penske 90 15.261 2
5  Scott Dixon  Chip Ganassi Racing 90 22.829 2
6  Scott McLaughlin Team Penske 90 24.064 2
7  Romain Grosjean  Andretti Autosport 90 24.516 3
8  Graham Rahal  Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 90 31.917 2
9  Alexander Rossi  Andretti Autosport 90 33.249 2
10  Colton Herta  Andretti Autosport 90 33.510 3
11  Simon Pagenaud  Meyer Shank Racing 90 33.741 2
12  Marcus Ericsson  Chip Ganassi Racing 90 34.473 3
13  Takuma Sato  Dale Coyne Racing 90 34.914 2
14  Josef Newgarden  Team Penske 90 35.680 3
15  Christian Lundgaard  Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 90 37.041 2
16  Felix Rosenqvist  Arrow McLaren SP 90 41.614 2
17  Devlin DeFrancesco  Andretti Autosport 90 42.451 2
18  Jack Harvey  Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 90 1’02.326 3
19  Conor Daly Ed Carpenter Racing 90 1’03.294 3
20  David Malukas Dale Coyne Racing with HMD 90 1’03.743 2
21  Helio Castroneves  Meyer Shank Racing 90 1’04.532 3
22  Kyle Kirkwood  A.J. Foyt Enterprises 89 1 Lap 4
23  Dalton Kellett  A.J. Foyt Enterprises 89 1 Lap 3
24  Jimmie Johnson  Chip Ganassi Racing 89 1 Lap 3
25  Callum Ilott Juncos Hollinger Racing 88 2 Laps 3
26  Tatiana Calderon  A.J. Foyt Enterprises 88 2 Laps 3
Owen Johnson