Race Weekend Central

Patricio O’Ward Wins in Detroit, Becoming 2021’s 1st Repeat Winner

Patricio O’Ward is now a two-time IndyCar Series winner after taking the checkered flag in the second of this weekend’s two races at the Raceway at Belle Isle in Detroit Sunday (June 13). Polesitter Josef Newgarden finished second, while Alex Palou took the final podium position.

O’Ward shoved his way by Newgarden, who had led the entire race to that point, with three laps to go on Strand Drive after Newgarden got loose exiting turn 6. Contact was made between the two drivers that loosened Newgarden’s left sidepod. From there, O’Ward stretched his lead out to 6.7595 seconds by the time the checkered flag fell.

Newgarden spent the race’s last two laps battling with Palou and Colton Herta, ultimately claiming the spot ahead of Palou, Herta and Graham Rahal.  Team Penske’s Will Power was sixth, then Scott Dixon, Simon Pagenaud, Saturday winner Marcus Ericsson and Santino Ferrucci, who recovered from a crash in qualifying Sunday morning to finish 10th.

O’Ward and Newgarden spent much of the last green flag run of the race playing cat and mouse after O’Ward shoved his way past Graham Rahal, Palou, and Herta following the race’s final restart. For Newgarden, the last stage of the race was focused on making the most of his used red tires and conserving his push-to-pass reserve.

While O’Ward spent the last laps of the race breathing down Newgarden’s neck, the two-time champion fought valiantly for the race win, sliding his Team Penske Chevy through the corners as O’Ward closed in. Herta briefly joined the fight, but locked the front brakes entering turn 3 and was passed by Palou while running wide.

“I had a great car under me … I texted Felix (Rosenqvist) this morning, the important thing is that he’s okay, but I told him ‘I’m going to win this one for you.’,” O’Ward said in victory lane.

Newgarden remarked on the results of his tire strategy after the race: “Sad. Just pretty sad. It’s hard not to be disappointed. Cautions when we didn’t need them. Wrong tires when we didn’t need them. … It is what it is.” Newgarden was also impressed with O’Ward’s pace, likening him to a freight train.

This win propels O’Ward to the points lead, to which O’Ward responded confidently that he can very well believe that fact. Palou sits second, while Scott Dixon is third. Today’s second-place finish moves Newgarden up to fourth ahead of Rinus VeeKay.

Of 2021’s historic rookie class, Scott McLaughlin finished best in 20th position. Both Jimmie Johnson spun exiting turn 1 to bring out a yellow with 17 laps to go. He would finish a lap down in. Johnson finished 21st.

Grosjean ran well all day until he roasted his brakes shortly the restart from the caution for Johnson’s spin.  Grosjean then stopped his car on Strand Drive with both front brakes emitting black smoke before catching on fire.

As you can see, Grosjean grabbed a fire extinguisher from a track marshal with intentions of putting the fire out himself before the safety team reached the scene.  The Safety Team ended up calling Grosjean off.  Ultimately, Grosjean was forced to retire from the race and was credited with 24th.


The NTT IndyCar Series returns to action next weekend at Road America for the REV Group Grand Prix.  Coverage is scheduled to begin at Noon ET Sunday on NBCSN as part of a NBCSN doubleheader with the NASCAR Cup Series.

About the author

Alex is the IndyCar Content Director at Frontstretch, having initially joined as an entry-level contributor in 2021. He also serves as Managing Director of The Asia Cable, a publication focused on the international affairs and politics of the Asia-Pacific region which he co-founded in 2023. With previous experience in China, Japan and Poland, Alex is particularly passionate about the international realm of motorsport and the politics that make the wheels turn - literally - behind the scenes.

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This kid is exciting to watch race! Reminds me of Robert Wickens, perhaps even a bit bolder. If he can stay out of wrecks/injuries, O’Ward is gonna win some championships.

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