New points leader O’Ward “maximized what we could”

Gateway runner-up and new points leader Pato O’Ward admitted there was no real way of beating eventual winner Josef Newgarden.

The Arrow McLaren SP-Chevrolet driver ran in the top six all race, and wisely backed out of a low percentage investigation of the inside line during a restart that saw him three abreast with Alexander Rossi and Marcus Ericsson.

His decision to choose caution over valor looked particularly prescient when behind him fellow young gun Rinus VeeKay made a mistake that took himself and the title-fighting Chip Ganassi Racing-Hondas of Alex Palou and Scott Dixon into the wall.

Later he was able to pass Rossi and struggling polesitter Will Power and become Newgarden’s nearest pursuer, as the pair chased Colton Herta, who would retire from the lead with a driveshaft failure.

The result leaves O’Ward out front with a 10-point margin over Palou, with Newgarden just a dozen points further back, and six-time and defending champion Dixon now in fourth, 43 points off top spot.

“It was a very solid points day for us,” said O’Ward who scored his first two IndyCar wins this year, at Texas Motor Speedway Race 2 and Detroit Race 2. “I think we really maximized what we could have got out of our car and out of our race.

“It’s really tough to pass here. The only way to get by someone is maybe if I have way newer tires than Josef, but we had the same amount of tire life, the same amount of fuel.

“It’s just tough to pass around here as we saw last year. But great race, great crowd and really solid day for us.”

O’Ward’s Arrow McLaren SP teammate Felix Rosenqvist’s season of misery continued, retiring mid-race with a mechanical problem.

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