Chevy took its fourth IndyCar win in as many races on Sunday after Pato O’Ward surged past Rinus Veekay to win the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama from Barber Motorsports Park.
O’Ward moved into the lead of the 90-lap race on Lap 62, surging past Rinus Veekay following the pair’s third and final round of pit stops in which both Chevy drivers took a fresh set of the black sidewall Firestone primary tire. The Mexican made his move into the Turn 5 hairpin, going around the outside of Veekay as the Dutchman struggled to get heat into his tires on the out lap. The Ed Carpenter Racing driver struggled on the black sidewall tire for the remainder of the race, eventually losing second place to reigning champion Alex Palou and settling for the final step on the podium.
The win came as O’Ward is engaged in contract discussions with his Arrow McLaren SP team, which the young Mexican driver admitted had distracted him in recent weeks as he drove to lackluster finishes of 12th and 15th at St. Petersburg and Texas. In a post-race interview, O’Ward said he was determined to put the contract negotiations behind him and simply focus on getting a victory to put his season back on course.
“It sucks to be at war within your own team, right?” O’Ward told IndyCar.com. “I’m glad there have been very positive talks for the future. I wanted to do it for these guys, for Arrow, for McLaren SP, Team Chevy. I was tired of being 10th and 11th and fifth, so I said, ‘Let’s get a win under our belts so we can claw our way back into the championship fight.”
O’Ward now sits fifth in the championship standings, behind the three Team Penske drivers of Will Power in fourth, Josef Newgarden in third and Scott McLaughlin in second. Defending champ Palou leads the title race with three podiums and one top ten headed into the ever-important Month of May.
Check out the video embedded below for complete highlights from the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama. The NTT Data IndyCar Series season continues on May 14th with the GMR Grand Prix at the Indy Road Course.