O’Ward Wins Detroit Race Two as Newgarden’s Tires Fall Away

6 Mins read
(Photo Credit: Chris Owens / Courtesy of IndyCar)

Despite starting towards the back of the field after an error in qualifying, Arrow McLaren SP‘s Patricio O’Ward stormed through the pack and passed the dominant Josef Newgarden in the final laps to win the second race of the Chevrolet Grand Prix of Detroit and take the lead of the NTT IndyCar Series championship.

After a restart with seven laps to go, O’Ward passed Graham Rahal and Alex Palou in the first few corners, before charging up to the back of second-place Colton Herta by the backstretch as Newgarden pulled away. O’Ward completed his move around Herta the next lap at the end of the backstretch, charging hard after Newgarden who struggled as his tyres wore down. With three laps to go, the young Mexican made his move in the same spot on Newgarden, pulling away to become the only repeat winner this year.

As O’Ward streaked away to the race win, Newgarden fell into the clutches of Palou, who managed to pass Herta, but was able to maintain second place with Palou in third.

Newgarden led the field to green with a great launch, as cars scrabled for position behind. Alexander Rossi made it three wide into turn one with Scott Dixon and Romain Grosjean, Grosjean was stuck in the middle, and nearly span Dixon as him and Rossi collided. A few more bumps put everyone facing the right way. In turn three, Sebastien Bourdais went over the curb and lost a gear, forcing James Hinchcliffe to check up as Max Chilton smashed into his rear bumper causing a caution on lap one.

Rinus Veekay and Grosjean were among the few teams who moved to the three stop strategy, not as many willing to give up the track position to get off the alternate red-wall tyres. Newgarden led the field to green again on lap five, with everyone able to get through clean on the single-file start. By the end of the first lap, Newgarden already streaked away to a two second lead from Herta. As the alternate tyres began to fall off, Newgarden’s lead continued to grow to almost ten seconds in as many laps since the restart.

Rossi restarted the race in fourth, but began to fall down the pack after damage to the front wing in the first lap incident. On lap seventeen, he was one of the first on the alternate tyres to hit pit lane along with his teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay, needing extra time to fix his front wing. On the exit of his pit stop, A.J. Foyt EnterprisesDalton Kellett had the wheel nut of his right rear tyre come off at pit exit, so the young Canadian stopped to avoid an incident like Newgarden yesterday and Rahal at the Indianapolis 500.

(Photo Credit: Joe Skibinski / Courtesy of IndyCar)

On lap twenty one, Newgarden dived for pit lane for another set of primary tyres in case of a caution for Kellett as Herta followed suit. No yellow flag was thrown in the end which benefitted the likes of Marcus Ericsson, who pit under caution to get off his alternates and ran long on his primary tyres. Will Power also gained loads of track position, stretching his primary tyres to lap twenty-six before making his first pit stop, jumping from twentieth to eighth in the first stint.

Jack Harvey was having a strong run inside the top ten, until he was spun by Grosjean in turn six on lap twenty-eight while re-joining from a pit stop. This gave Harvey a flat tire and forced him to pit again, finishing in nineteenth. Grosjean was handed a drive-through penalty for avoidable contact.

Through the second stint, Herta began to chip into Newgarden’s lead by about one half of a second per lap. The leaders began to make their stops on lap forty-six, including Herta, onto the primary tyres. Newgarden came in the very next lap for his mandatory stint on the alternate tyres he used in pole qualifying, asking a lot to run the next twenty three laps on that set. Newgarden got out ahead of Herta with lap traffic in between, and the race was on.

By lap fifty-three Herta was on the gearbox of Newgarden, but just ahead of the leaders in turn one, Jimmie Johnson spun and stalled, causing a caution. Herta had a ten second gap to the likes of Palou and other hard-chargers behind, giving them all a shot at Newgarden. With twelve laps to go Newgarden got away clean with the lead, as Palou tried to battle with Herta for second.

Before a full lap could get in, Grosjean brought out another caution after spinning, salt in the would after a tough day for the rookie. Both his front brakes were on fire, and he ran to get a fire extinguisher to put them out, but the AMR safety crew beat him to the blaze and held him back while they saved the car. With seven laps to go Newgarden took the field back to green, where much to his delight, O’Ward stormed past Rahal and Palou in the first few corners before charging right up to the gearbox of Herta by the backstretch. This allowed Newgarden to skip out to a second lead.

O’Ward took second from Herta the next lap at the end of the backstretch, and began to charge hard on the struggling Newgarden. As O’Ward looked for his move, Herta re-joined the fight. With three laps to go, Herta locked up his tyres into turn three, leaving O’Ward to take Newgarden all on his own. He made the move on the backstretch, becoming the first person to lead a lap other than Newgarden.

After the race he dedicated the win to his teammate Felix Rosenqvist, who suffered a serious crash in yesterday’s race. O’Ward said post-race that he texted Felix that morning telling him he was going to win the race for his Swedish teammate, and did exactly that.

(Photo Credit: Joe Skibinski / Courtesy of IndyCar)

After a thrilling battle that saw Negarden and Palou take the podium spots, Herta came home fourth in a race the team is sure they felt they could have won. Radio communications revealed that they struggled to keep pace with Newgarden on the restarts, and could have had a podium had it not been for the tyre lock-up.

Rahal was the model of consistency this weekend with another fifth place finish, right on the back of Herta as Newgarden began backing up the field. In a doubleheader weekend consistency is a great way to collect a lot of points, which Rahal did in Detroit. Power benefitted greatly from the issues of Kellett, gaining a plethora of track position he took to a sixth place finish. After coming so close to victory yesterday, Power remained focused and put together a great result after starting the race in twentieth.

Dixon finished the race seventh, a model of consistency much like Rahal after finishing eighth in race one. With Dixon sitting third in the championship, every point counts to stay with his young teammate Palou and fellow phenom O’Ward. Simon Pagenaud was poised for a top ten finish in race one, but chaos on the final restart saw him drop to twelfth. Today however, he didn’t let that happen, finishing eighth.

Ericsson, the winner of race one, found himself starting in twenty-second after under-fueling the car in qualifying, but was able to take advantage of the Kellett incident to help propel him into the top ten once again with a ninth place finish at what many could call his best track.

But most impressively, Santino Ferrucci‘s tenth place finish came despite all odds thrown against him. After totaling his Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda in qualifying, his crew turned teammate Takuma Sato‘s backup car into Ferrucci’s primary car. To add to the difficulty, the car was still in speedway configuration, not giving the twenty-three year old the optimal setup for a bumpy street course. The crew was rewarded for all of their hard work done in roughly two hours with an incredible result.

Veekay will be disappointed with his result today, a blemish on his incredible season thus far. His three stop strategy turned into many more after incidents on-track, including contact made with Ericsson that cut a tyre. He finished as the last car on the lead lap in eighteenth place.

Oliver Askew, who drove in place of Rosenqvist today, put up competitive lap times as he learned the streets of Belle Isle, a track he had never been to, but was sadly forced to retire with possible engine issues late in the race. He finished in last place.

Now in control of the points, O’Ward leads the field to Road America, where he almost won his first career race last year, for the REV Group Grand Prix on 20 June.

Chevrolet Grand Prix of Detroit Official Results

15Pato O’WardMEXArrow McLaren SP01:41:30.881
22Josef NewgardenUSATeam Penske+ 6.759 sec
310Alex PalouESPChip Ganassi Racing+ 6.939 sec
426Colton HertaUSAAndretti Autosport+ 7.055 sec
515Graham RahalUSARahal Letterman Lanigan Racing+ 7.695 sec
612Will PowerAUSTeam Penske+ 8.441 sec
79Scott DixonNZLChip Ganassi Racing+ 8.832 sec
822Simon PagenaudFRATeam Penske+ 9.064 sec
98Marcus EricssonSWEChip Ganassi Racing+ 9.524 sec
1045Santino FerrucciUSARahal Letterman Lanigan Racing+ 10.686 sec
1128Ryan Hunter-ReayUSAAndretti Autosport+ 10.985 sec
1230Takuma SatoJPNRahal Letterman Lanigan Racing+ 11.576 sec
1327Alexander RossiUSAAndretti Autosport+ 14.209 sec
1429James HinchcliffeCANAndretti Steinbrenner Autosport+ 14.996 sec
1520Conor DalyUSAEd Carpenter Racing+15.152 sec
1614Sebastien BourdaisFRAA.J. Foyt Enterprises+ 15.272 sec
1718Ed JonesUAEDale Coyne Racing w/ Vasser-Sullivan+ 16.118 sec
1821Rinus VeeKayNEDEd Carpenter Racing+ 16.854 sec
1960Jack HarveyGBRMeyer Shank Racing+ 1 lap
203Scott McLaughlin (R)NZLTeam Penske+ 1 lap
2148Jimmie Johnson (R)USAChip Ganassi Racing+ 1 lap
2259Max ChiltonGBRCarlin+ 2 laps
234Dalton KellettCANA.J. Foyt Enterprises+ 9 laps
2451Romain Grosjean (R)FRADale Coyne Racing w/ Rick Ware RacingMechanical
257Oliver AskewUSAArrow McLaren SPMechanical
(R) – Rookie
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Lifelong sports junkie, currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Hofstra University. Lead writer for Indycar at The Checkered Flag.
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