O’Ward storms to victory in Detroit Race 2

Michael Levitt/Motorsport Images

O’Ward storms to victory in Detroit Race 2


O’Ward storms to victory in Detroit Race 2



Lap 1 opened with a knockaround between Turns 1 and 2 with Scott Dixon turning into Romain Grosjean, and with Alexander Rossi going down the inside of Grosjean, a spinning Dixon made contact with Rossi’s left-front tire, which straightened his car and prevented a spin. The only penalty was dropping two spots from P6 to P8 for Dixon; Rossi was dealt left-front wing damage.

The race added more contact moments later as Sebastien Bourdais flew over the inside curb at Turn 3, landed, and took a moment to regain momentum. The ensuing accordion effect slowed James Hinchcliffe, and the third driver in the train, Max Chilton, struggled to slow his car in time to avoid a rear collision. Riding up the back of Hinchcliffe’s car, Chilton broke his front wing assembly and nosed into the tire barrier, which brought out a caution.


Among the front-runners, Rinus VeeKay (P3) and Romain Grosjean (P5) pitted to get off of Firestone’s red-banded tires. The Lap 5 restart saw Pato O’Ward take P10 from Simon Pagenaud.

By the start of Lap 7, Newgarden — the only driver in the top 12 to start on Firestone’s primary tires — held a 2.2s advantage over Colton Herta in P2 and 3.3s over Alex Palou in P3.

Lapping nearly a half-second faster than those immediately behind him, Newgarden stretched his lead over Herta to 3.9s by Lap 10. It was out to 6.4s by Lap 12 as the Penske driver was doing amazing things. Dixon got past Jones for P6, and then he’d take P5 from Rossi on Lap 14 as Santino Ferrucci claimed P7 as Jones fell back to P10 as a few more drivers got by.

By Lap 15, Newgarden was 10.8s clear of Herta as Ferrucci dispatched Rossi from P6. A premature effort to pass and clear Marcus Ericsson saw Rinus VeeKay hit the Race 1 winner, push Ericsson into the wall, and cut down VeeKay’s left-rear tire; the Ed Carpenter Racing driver pitted to have it replaced.

Rossi pitted on Lap 17 and lost a lot of time while the front wing was changed. Lap 19 had Newgarden holding 13.4s over Herta as Jones pitted. Dixon was in on Lap 20 and passed Dalton Kellett — who stopped on the exit of pit lane and waited for the A.J. Foyt Racing team to run down and install the missing wheel nut on the right-rear wheel. Newgarden pitted from the lead with a 14.4s margin over Herta as most of his pursuers stopped as well and took a second set of primaries.

Will Power pitted from second on Lap 27 as did Takuma Sato. Pitting on Lap 29, Jack Harvey emerged and had contact with Grosjean, who looked inside at Turn 6, spun Harvey, and cut Harvey’s right-rear tire. Harvey kept the engine running and got going without the need for a caution.

Lap 30 had Newgarden 9.8s up on Herta, 14.6s on Palou, and repeating what was seen during his first stint. Lap 40 showed Herta’s efforts to draw down the gap were successful as Newgarden’s lead was 7.9s; Palou wasn’t as fortunate, down 15.6s. The rest of the top 10 was completed by Graham Rahal, Dixon, O’Ward, Power, Ferrucci, Ryan Hunter-Reay, and Pagenaud.

Lap 46 was the time to pit for Herta, Palou, Rahal, Dixon, O’Ward, and more. Newgarden followed at the end of the lap. Herta was 4.6s arrears and on hotter primary tires as Newgarden emerged on the less favorable reds.

The gap was down to 3.0s by Lap 48. Ferrucci defended against a pass by Pagenaud at Turn 3 and made contact. Oliver Askew pitted with a problem that ended his chances of a decent finish.

By Lap 51, Herta had the lead cut to 0.7s to Newgarden who was lapping 1.0s slower on used reds. Power pitted from P4 on Lap 52. Herta was 0.3s arrears as Lap 53 started. Palou was 10,1s adrift in P3. Jimmie Johnson spun in Turn 1 to start Lap 54 and stalled his undamaged car. A caution followed.

Jones and VeeKay pitted under the yellow.

The Lap 59 restart saw O’Ward take P5 from Dixon and Newgarden pull away by 1.1s over Herta. Grosjean spun and stalled; with his front brakes on fire, he ran to get a fire extinguisher to put out the fires, but was stopped by the AMR Safety Team which took care of it on their own.

The Lap 64 restart was a repeat for O’Ward who took P4 from Rahal into Turn 1 and P3 from Palou into Turn 3. Power took P6 from Dixon. Newgarden pushed out to 1.4s over Herta by Lap 65 as O’Ward took P2 from him halfway through the lap. It was down to 0.2s on Lap 67.

Lap 68 saw O’Ward and Herta try to pass Newgarden and each other, which left Herta running long and falling back. O’Ward finally got by Newgarden and took off into an easy lead of 2.5s. Palou also got by Herta for P3 and set after Newgarden. O’Ward was 5.0s up on the start of the final lap as Newgarden was trailed by Palou, Herta, and Rahal. The top five stayed the same at the checkered flag — second win of the year for O’Ward.