Heroes Vs. Villains Could be the Spice IndyCar Series Needs

indianapolis, in during the indianapolis 500 at the indianapolis motor speedway photo by joe skibinski ims photo
Heroes Vs. Villains Could Be Spice IndyCar NeedsPenske Entertainment/Joe Skibinski

Pato O'Ward heard the roar of the 108th Indianapolis 500 throng heading into the final lap of this year's race.

Listen closely, and it was easy to pick out more than a smattering of boos when Josef Newgarden crossed the finish line first.

Wait? Newgarden is now a villain?

O'Ward a new IndyCar hero?

Maybe IndyCar fans still haven't fully moved on from the Team Penske penalties and Newgarden's disqualification in the season opener at St. Petersburg. Maybe the series is getting a personality—some might even say FINALLY.

"There was a lot of passion that day," O'Ward said on Friday in Detroit, site of this Sunday's Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix. "I think there was no shortage of that. I wasn't paying too much attention too much and what was happening after the race, to be honest. I had my helmet on for a while.

a man wearing a helmet and sunglasses
Pato O’Ward became a hero of sorts to many fans with his heartbreaking runner-up finish at the 500.AARON SKILLMAN

"But I don't think it's my place to say who's the hero, who's the villain. I just try and do my best and give everybody a good show, which I think we did. I think the duel that we had the last few laps is probably one of the best there's been in a while, and I think people were just excited to see that fight."


Scott Dixon, a six-time IndyCar Series champion, said that maybe a few hero vs. villain storylines wouldn't be such a bad thing for the series.

"I think it's good, it's good for the sport," Dixon said. "I think it's always been there, but it's maybe more vocal right now, obviously, with the recent activities. But it's good to see that passion, especially over a race and a fight like that.

"That's what draws in new people too, so that's cool."

Two-time and defending series champion and defending Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix champion Alex Palou isn't sure what camp he'd fall in if fans start picking sides.

"I don't care as long as I'm in the mix of winning races," Palou said. "I don't care if I'm the good or the bad guy.

"But, yeah, I'm probably a bad guy. I prefer that."