Pato O’Ward won a dramatic Barber IndyCar race for Arrow McLaren SP that had collisions, off-sync strategy and some brilliant overtaking moves.
Polesitter Rinus VeeKay dominated as 17 cars took the correct decision not to pit early and commit to a two stop race.
It meant VeeKay was the race leader until the final stop when his shadow Pato O’Ward basically erased a lead that was well over a second on his in-lap, had a good stop at the same time as VeeKay and then attacked VeeKay immediately on the outlap.
O’Ward dived to the outside of the Turn 5 hairpin and went all the way around, despite his ice-cold tyres, to assume the lead.
VeeKay admitted after the race he forgot to use his push to pass while watching for O’Ward in his mirrors, and said his in-lap was compromised by Jimmie Johnson.
A lap later, Alex Palou slotted in ahead of VeeKay in what is becoming a trademark package of rapid stops and in and out laps from the reigning champion.
However, on used hard tyres while O’Ward and VeeKay were on a fresh set, Palou faced tough odds of overturning his rival. O’Ward also had twice as much push to pass as Palou, and it gave O’Ward the cushion he needed.
Ganassi’s Palou closed in briefly but O’Ward soon pulled away to score his first win of the season at the venue he scored his first IndyCar pole last year.
With all the doubts over his future – he looks set to re-sign with Arrow McLaren SP now – it’s been a tough start but with the sniff of an opportunity at a race win he delivered in the tough moments.
It was Chevrolet’s fourth win in as many races after four straight Honda manufacturers’ championship titles in a row.
Palou – the top Honda driver – held on for second with VeeKay taking a podium which scores him and Ed Carpenter Racing strong points.
Will Power went from 19th to fourth for Penske. A lot of that came from staying on the lead strategy and jumping those that went onto the alternate choice. But some patient driving and well-judged overtakes when needed, he passed Scott Dixon late on to secure another fourth. He hasn’t finished lower than that this season.
Scott Dixon gave Ganassi a second car in the top five ahead of Scott McLaughlin, who struggled in the last stint, although it could have been worse as he fought off Colton Herta for much of it.
Herta went to the three stop strategy early, and a caution for impressive qualifier Callum Ilott’s spin seemed to ruin that as Herta had to stop the same amount as the cars in front but ran 18th.
Well… that one was on me, sent it a bit too much for cold tires, shame to finish what was our strongest weekend yet like that. But lots of positives to bring to the next one ✌️still lots to push for. pic.twitter.com/pnKRaARtwY
— Callum Ilott (@callum_ilott) May 1, 2022
However, he drove through to ninth in the following stint to put himself in a position to challenge for a top-five in the final stint.
Then, while fighting McLaughlin, he dived down the inside at Turn 5 from way back and clipped McLaughlin. Herta spun and fell to 10th.
It was the Andretti driver’s second crucial mistake in as many races after hitting the wall in Long Beach while fighting for the win.
McLaughlin attacked Dixon late on but had to settle for sixth, while Romain Grosjean passed Graham Rahal in the closing laps after appearing to drive in on him the lap previous, which caused the pair to blame each other on the radio and Rahal called Grosjean a “punk”.
Rahal had to settle for eighth after running out of fuel at the end.
Alexander Rossi had been in the top five all day but fell down at the final stop and looked at least for a short period to be struggling on his tyres. He passed Herta for ninth when Herta spun.
Simon Pagenaud was another in the Will Power school of racing. Meyer Shank Racing’s Pagenaud started 24th but stayed out early on the lead strategy and moved through the field even if he didn’t have the best car this weekend to take 11th, making 13 spots.
|Pos||Name||Team||Car||Laps||Laps Led||Total Time||Fastest Lap||Pitstops||Pts|
|1||Patricio O'Ward||Arrow McLaren SP||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||90||27||1h48m39.436s||1m08.981s||2||51|
|2||Alex Palou||Chip Ganassi Racing||Dallara DW12-Honda||90||4||+0.98s||1m08.154s||2||41|
|3||Rinus VeeKay||Ed Carpenter Racing||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||90||57||+12.482s||1m08.906s||2||39|
|4||Will Power||Team Penske||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||90||0||+15.262s||1m09.175s||2||32|
|5||Scott Dixon||Chip Ganassi Racing||Dallara DW12-Honda||90||0||+22.83s||1m09.156s||2||30|
|6||Scott McLaughlin||Team Penske||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||90||0||+24.065s||1m09.37s||2||28|
|7||Romain Grosjean||Andretti Autosport||Dallara DW12-Honda||90||0||+24.516s||1m08.301s||3||26|
|8||Graham Rahal||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||Dallara DW12-Honda||90||0||+31.918s||1m09.487s||2||24|
|9||Alexander Rossi||Andretti Autosport||Dallara DW12-Honda||90||0||+33.25s||1m09.58s||2||22|
|10||Colton Herta||Andretti Autosport with Curb-Agajanian||Dallara DW12-Honda||90||0||+33.511s||1m08.437s||3||20|
|11||Simon Pagenaud||Meyer Shank Racing||Dallara DW12-Honda||90||0||+33.742s||1m09.316s||2||19|
|12||Marcus Ericsson||Chip Ganassi Racing||Dallara DW12-Honda||90||0||+34.474s||1m08.695s||3||18|
|13||Takuma Sato||Dale Coyne Racing with RWR||Dallara DW12-Honda||90||0||+34.914s||1m09.521s||2||17|
|14||Josef Newgarden||Team Penske||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||90||2||+35.681s||1m08.624s||3||17|
|15||Christian Lundgaard||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||Dallara DW12-Honda||90||0||+37.042s||1m09.227s||2||15|
|16||Felix Rosenqvist||Arrow McLaren SP||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||90||0||+41.615s||1m09.613s||2||14|
|17||Devlin DeFrancesco||Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport||Dallara DW12-Honda||90||0||+42.451s||1m09.393s||2||13|
|18||Jack Harvey||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||Dallara DW12-Honda||90||0||+1m02.327s||1m08.798s||3||12|
|19||Conor Daly||Ed Carpenter Racing||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||90||0||+1m03.295s||1m09.094s||3||11|
|20||David Malukas||Dale Coyne Racing with HMD Motorsport||Dallara DW12-Honda||90||0||+1m03.744s||1m09.938s||2||10|
|21||Hélio Castroneves||Meyer Shank Racing||Dallara DW12-Honda||90||0||+1m04.533s||1m08.796s||3||9|
|22||Kyle Kirkwood||A.J. Foyt Enterprises||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||89||0||+1 lap||1m09.061s||4||8|
|23||Dalton Kellett||A.J. Foyt Enterprises||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||89||0||+1 lap||1m09.541s||3||7|
|24||Jimmie Johnson||Chip Ganassi Racing||Dallara DW12-Honda||89||0||+1 lap||1m09.517s||3||6|
|25||Callum Ilott||Juncos Hollinger Racing||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||88||0||+2 laps||1m09.559s||3||5|
|26||Tatiana Calderón||A.J. Foyt Enterprises||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||88||0||+2 laps||1m10.263s||3||5|