Pato O’Ward avoided a first-turn melee and cruised to a seven-second victory Sunday to sweep the Indy Lights doubleheader at Portland International Raceway.
After clinching the 2018 Lights’ title on Saturday with a win over rival Colton Herta, O’Ward held back and dodged the Turn 1 carnage after starting seventh.
The race opened with six of the eight starters spread across the track and as they all tried to out-brake each other going into Turn 1. Polesitter Ryan Norman was overtaken into Turn 1 and made contact with a couple cars and sent Herta spinning. Dalton Kellett went across the corner and slammed through two advertising hoardings; unaware the signs were held in place by big sand bags hidden from view, Kellett broke off his front wing and shot the nose a few feet in the air as the sand bags acted like a ramp. He lost three laps as repairs were made.
O’Ward crashed during qualifying but it turned out to be a blessing as he weaved through the smoke and spinning cars. He took the lead from Santi Urrita on Lap 11 and beat Aaron Telitz to score his ninth triumph of the season.
Santi Urrita took the other podium spot and Herta recovered to finish fourth in the Indy Lights season finale.