Arrow McLaren SP’s Patricio O’Ward celebrates his first win in IndyCar, and looks forward to his F1 test at Abu Dhabi – a prize from McLaren for winning.
O’Ward won Sunday’s Xpel 375 at Texas Motor Speedway by a convincing margin, by way of a clever strategy which allowed him to get past opponents on a track which provided little opportunity for overtaking.
It was the Mexican’s first IndyCar win, after a rookie season in which victory alluded him despite a number of instances in which he nearly earned a win. After claiming win number one, O’Ward said it felt “very special” to win – especially so close to where he spent much of his youth, in San Antonio.
“It’s really cool to do it in a place that’s very close to my heart, very close to home. Texas is the closest that I will ever have to racing in Mexico. Hopefully we can change that in the future. I lived here just four hours south of here in San Antonio for many years.
“I grew up there a lot of my teenage years. I love coming here. It’s a tough track. It’s not easy at all. But I think it’s a great place to do it. Lots of my family was here. It’s really cool to share this moment with them. It’s just cool to get it out of the way for the rest of the season, to try and rack up as many more as we can.
Using the momentum from his early win, O’Ward hopes this can fuel a championship run: “If we can’t take that, we take a second or a third. We’re here for the long haul. We want to try to challenge for this championship and want a chance whenever we end up in California at the end of September,” he said.
O’Ward also says that the win is doubly rewarding by virtue of the fact that he achieved it without luck playing a part. This, he points out, eliminates the argument that he was an unworthy victor: “I truly feel like we earned it based on pace, pit stops, and the job that I did on track. Without the overtakes that we did, we probably wouldn’t have had a chance. It feels really good that we truly earned this. I couldn’t be happier for the group of guys,” O’Ward shared.
The Arrow McLaren SP driver was promised a test with McLaren’s F1 project were he to win in IndyCar in 2021, and now having achieved this, the 22-year-old says McLaren racing CEO Zak Brown will “pay up” – which he will in Abu Dhabi at the end of 2021 season – “Where is my F1 test? I want McLaren,” he promised to ask at the first opportunity.
However excited he may be, though, to experience F1, O’Ward insists he’s found a home in IndyCar – one which he has little interest in leaving for a bigger stage. “Man, I mean, like I said, my heart’s with IndyCar. It’s just great racing and it’s so, so competitive. I think for a driver there is nothing harder in the world.
“I think many drivers can agree with me that have come from Formula 1 to IndyCar, back to Formula 1,” O’Ward said, before confessing he might be unwise to leave an F1 offer on the table were one to arise. “You know what, Formula 1 is the peak of technology. Everybody wants to go there.
“If the opportunity ever came by Zak, he said there’s a seat open, I want you in my team, I’d be pretty dumb not to take it because it would just be a crazy opportunity. They don’t come often. [But] right now I’m focused on the job that I have right now in INDYCAR. I want to make the best of it,” summed up O’Ward.
Here’s how Patricio O’Ward won