Heartbroken O’Ward’s greatness shone through in Indy 500 defeat –


Five years of frustration and pent-up emotion poured out of Pato O’Ward at the end of the Indianapolis 500.

The 25-year-old Mexican is a force of nature, but another defeat at the Indy 500 has left him struggling to cope.

This event had all the things that make Patu great. Thousands of hats and T-shirts show just how popular he is, and not only does he have a huge Latino support network on display, he dominates it, and later in the race, he blocks two out-of-control shots. The car at turn two which will undoubtedly go down in history as one of the special moments of this event that has been run 108 times.

It doesn’t really matter whether O’Ward dominates large portions of the Indy 500 or comes out strong at the end like he did on Sunday, he is always a threat and his final pass for the lead into Turn 1 showed that. Sadly for him, Josef Newgarden had a better move up his sleeve later in the lap.

The Race asked O’Ward if he could take solace in Newgarden – someone O’Ward says is a “great competitor” he can “trust” in the race – and needs 12 attempts to take his maiden win here.

“I think everyone’s path is different,” he says, still thinking through the questions with a great deal of honesty and thoughtfulness, even though he was bombarded with questions that amounted to “What’s it like to lose, why didn’t you win, how do you feel about it?” That negative event that just happened to you and so on.

“Obviously some guys get it done very early and then never do it again, and some guys take a long time and get it done. But I don’t think any of those guys have been in contention five years in a row and not won. That’s what I’m going through.”

“I think the closest person to going through this is Helio [Castroneves]. I know he had four, but he finished second more often than not. So I think it’s good to get second place.

“Maybe I’ll get a couple in a row in the future. I don’t know. Maybe I’ll get none.”

“This place, like I said, doesn’t owe me anything. It’s so cool to be a part of this event.”

Despite the obvious heartache, O’Ward was generous in his praise of Newgarden, his team and his fans.

“Everyone here, the IndyCar community, all the IndyCar fans, the people from Indianapolis make me feel at home here,” he added. “I’m very grateful for that. I’m very grateful for that.”

“I hope I put a smile on the faces of the kids and the people who were here to support us. I hope they go home tonight happy with the show we gave them because I feel like it definitely wasn’t a boring race.

“We had to fight for our result harder than ever, and I think that’s why it’s more emotional, because I gave my best today.”

It’s easy to see why O’Ward is so popular. He’s amazing in the car and wears his heart on his sleeve outside of it.

Pato Oward, McLaren, Indy 500

He’s unparalleled in terms of fan engagement, and funding some of that comes out of his own pocket as well – because he believes in his mission to grow IndyCar (and of course his own support in the process).

Even without a championship or Indy 500 win yet, the lines for autographs are as long as anything else.

On the track, things were tough in 2024. He won St. Pete after Newgarden was disqualified for using a push to pass on a restart, but after that it was tough. The incidents at Long Beach, at Barber – including his teammates – and his 13th place finish at IndyGP left a lot to be desired in terms of fighting for the championship, a goal required by his new $10 million contract.

The thing that will make this loser’s win even more difficult is that people who have never driven an IndyCar will question O’Ward’s claim, meaning in 2022 people say he saved a move on Marcus Ericsson that he could have stuck with, and in 2023 He had an accident after trying to pass Ericsson. This has been interpreted as a transition from extreme vulnerability to extreme aggression.

But if you spent time watching O’Ward’s car look out of control in the closing stages of the Indy 500, he probably knew his car wasn’t capable of making the same move Newgarden did in Turn 3, and here’s why. He passed into Turn 1. Think about that epic double save and how hard he worked coming out of Turn 2; Would he have had the same track and would his car have been as planted as Newgarden’s car was at Turn Three?

Without sitting in the car, it is difficult for us to know and it is not fair to judge.

But if he continues to perform as he did on Sunday — against Newgarden, in a battle between the two best oval racers in the series right now — his stock will rise even further.

Pato O'Ward, McLaren, and Josef Newgarden, Penske, Indy 500

Videos of his amazing skill will continue to help. They are more frequent than any other driver, with Colton Herta being the only real contender.

“Man, if there was ever a time I had to put a lot of trust in my skill, it’s today,” O’Ward said when asked about the “save” he made in turn two.

“Like I said, there were a lot where I was, like, ‘I don’t know if this is going to work.’

“I was very loose – so, very loose. She was shaking a lot, moving a lot. There were a lot of moments like that where I knew what to expect, but sometimes you never know when it’s going to be like biting.”

“I risked a lot to put myself in contention to win this race, but that’s what you have to do when you’re stuck in line like that. That’s why, if not, you’re stuck, no one is going to pass.

“I did it when it was necessary.

“Definitely the craziest 500 I’ve ever been in as far as the issues I was having inside my car. So many moments.”

O’Ward would do well to look at Newgarden for how long it took him to win – or even Scott Dixon, who was in the press conference room when a forlorn-looking O’Ward entered, patting O’Ward on the leg and issuing some words of encouragement out of earshot of the microphone.

Scott Dixon, Ganassi, Indy 500

Dixon may have won in 2008, yes, but he could have won any number of Indy 500 races since then. Three four five? This is a matter of opinion. But even he doesn’t expect them and talks about being content with what he has, even if it’s just one and nothing more.

O’Ward already appears to be adopting the same approach. He admitted he might never win this race. But at this point, the chances of that happening seem to be zero.



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