Pato O’Ward Wins XPEL 375 at Texas

The doubleheader at Texas featured two vastly different races with two different outcomes. After Scott Dixon captured his 51st career victory on Saturday, Pato O’Ward earned his very first career win. It was the first victory for the Arrow McLaren SP team and the first non-Penske win for Chevrolet since Dixon’s win at Watkins Glen in 2016. The win also vaulted O’Ward into 2nd place in the championship.

O’Ward led 25 laps on Sunday but was at the front of the field all evening. He is the first Mexican driver to win an IndyCar race since Adrian Fernandez at Auto Club Speedway in 2004. O’Ward passed Josef Newgarden for the lead on Lap 225 and never looked back. Newgarden matched his season-best finish in 2nd and Graham Rahal joined them on the podium. It was a phenomenal weekend for Rahal, who finished 5th on Saturday and 3rd on Sunday.

XPEL 375 Box Score

Dixon led 163 laps on Sunday and appeared to be on his way towards his third consecutive victory at Texas, but the race changed halfway through and the field began to shuffle. The Ganassi driver still managed to finish 4th and heads to Indianapolis with a 22-point lead in the standings. He is the only driver to have finished inside the top five in every race this season. Colton Herta rounded out the top five on Sunday, a massive improvement from his bad-luck finish the day before.

Simon Pagenaud had another vanilla day and finished 6th while Alex Palou continued his solid season with a 7th place finish. After his runner-up finish yesterday, rookie Scott McLaughlin finished 8th in today’s race. Rinus VeeKay had another good run for Ed Carpenter Racing and came home in 9th with Ryan Hunter-Reay rounding out the top ten on Sunday.

The race began with a multi-car pileup before the green flag was waved. Cars were stacking up coming to the line then Pietro Fittipaldi got into the back of Sebastien Bourdais which put the entire wreck into motion. Both AJ Foyt Racing cars were out of the race after working until midnight to repair Bourdais’ car for today’s race. Both cars for Dale Coyne Racing were also finished before the race even began.

Conor Daly’s weekend foray with Carlin Racing didn’t end well as he went upside down in this accident, losing a wheel as he skidded across the front stretch and flipping back upright in the grass. Fortunately, Conor was okay thanks to the aeroscreen. His “Amazing Race” teammate, Alexander Rossi, was also taken out in the incident.

Rossi’s rotten luck is still hanging around, which is not the way he wanted to start the Month of May. The Andretti Autosport driver was credited with a 20th place finish on Sunday and will head to Indianapolis 15th in the championship standings, 88 points behind Dixon. Jack Harvey has had a solid start to the season and it looked like he would have another great weekend after finishing 7th on Saturday. Lady luck had other things in mind though, as a blown engine ended his day on Lap 115 while he was running in 4th place.

The attrition on Sunday was high as eight cars failed to finish the race. One of them was James Hinchcliffe, who had a miserable weekend after crashing on Saturday. The Andretti driver finished 18th on Sunday but is looking forward to returning to Indianapolis. Will Power (13th) was the last driver to finish on the lead lap, but he had a scary moment late in the race that led to him brushing the Turn 4 wall.

Today’s race was much better than the show on Saturday, especially for O’Ward and the whole team. He is celebrating a birthday in four days, and also has one other thing to look forward to later this year.

Teams and drivers will now head home and get a weekend off as they prepare for the Month of May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The next race on the schedule is the GMR Grand Prix on the IMS road course on May 15. NBC will provide coverage for the event, which begins at 2:30 PM ET on Sunday.

Photos courtesy of IndyCar

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