Indy 500 Heartbreak Fuels Pato O'Ward at Detroit

pato o'ward
Indy 500 Heartbreak Fuels Pato O'Ward at DetroitPenske Entertainment/Chris Owens

Pato O'Ward was two turns at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway from an Indy 500 win and racing immortality.

Instead, it was Josef Newgarden making the dramatic pass in Turn 3 of the final lap of the 108th Indianapolis 500 and holding on for his second Indianapolis 500 victory in as many years.

O'Ward's emotion after the loss left an indelible image to anyone watching, including both those at the Speedway and those watching at home. The helmeted head in hands and tears as he addressed the Indy 500 faithful after the race was a show of passion that will likely make O'Ward a favorite among the Indy 500 crowd for the rest of his career.


This week, O'Ward and the rest of the NTT IndyCar field are back at it. This time at the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix on a 1.7-mile circuit on the streets of Detroit. And at least O'Ward can take solace in the fact that the number of championship points up for grabs is that same as last week. He did not win the battle of Indianapolis, but a championship is still within grasp.

O'Ward comes into the Detroit race weekend fourth in the points with 134. Alex Palou leads with 183, followed by Scott Dixon with 163 and Will Power with 135. Newgarden is seventh with 122 points after his disqualification at the season-opening race in St. Petersburg—a race that O'Ward was declared the winner more than a month after the race.

a group of men in orange shirts
Pato O’Ward is consoled by team members after coming up just short at IndianapolisPenske Entertainment/Dana Garrett

"I'm fine. It's been a tough month," O'Ward said after the heartbreak of Indianapolis. "So much goes into this race. I think I'm somebody that wears my heart on my sleeve. I don't really hide anything.

"It's just when you've come so close and it just doesn't seem to—you just can't seem to get it right, it's just a lot of emotion I would say."

"I'm glad that we finished the race. Congratulations to Josef, two in a row. But yeah, I put that car in certain points where I didn't know if I was going to come out the other end and in one piece because I just want to win this race so freaking bad. It owes me nothing, so every time we come back, there's always a smile on my face to have another opportunity.

"At the end of the day, I hope I put smiles on kids' faces and people that were here out to support us. I hope that they go home tonight happy with the show that we gave them because I feel like it was definitely not a boring race.

"We had to fight for our result today harder than I've ever had to fight for it, and I think that's why it's just that much more emotional, because I put everything into today."

a race car on a track with a crowd watching
Pato O’Ward leads Josef Newgarden heading into the final lap of the 108th Indianapolis 500. Penske Entertainment/Paul Hurley

This week's opportunity is Detroit, where O'Ward crashed out midway through the race and finished 26th last year. It was the first year of the race being back in the streets of Detroit after a more than two-decade run on Belle Isle.

"This weekend we're back on a street course, and it's a challenging one," O'Ward said. "It's a big event for all of us, especially our friends over at Team Chevrolet. We're going to try and do our best for them and hopefully have a good reason to celebrate at the end of this weekend."

O'Ward is one of three Arrow McLaren entries at Detroit, along with veteran Alexander Rossi and rookie Theo Pourchaire. Outside of O'Ward's crash, the team had a good day in the Motor City last year, as Felix Rosenqvist finished third and Rossi fifth.

"Even though the results from last weekend are still a bit fresh, we have very little time to dwell on those—we have a race to get ready for this Sunday," said Arrow McLaren team principal Gavin Ward. "Detroit presents a great opportunity for us to build on the momentum we've created over the last couple weeks, especially considering how competitive we were there last year when we placed two cars in the top five."