NEWTON, IA — Pato O’Ward has had a close seat for a lot of Josef Newgarden’s recent victories in the NTT INDYCAR Series. On Saturday, O’Ward finished 2nd to Newgarden in the HyveeDeals.com 250 at the Iowa Speedway. He crossed the finish line 6.1784-seconds behind Newgarden for his 12th career podium. Among those podiums, he’s shared a spot on them with Newgarden. This was the 6th time the duo has finished 1-2 in an Indy Car race. Newgarden has won 4 of the 6 with O’Ward taking the other 2.
Newgarden got the best of O’Ward twice in 2020 at World Wide Technology Raceway and St. Pete. In 2021 though, O’Ward returned the favor at Texas and Belle Isle. However, Newgarden bested him again in St. Louis last August and did the same on Saturday in Iowa.
“I thought we had a little bit more for Josef in the end,” a happy O’Ward said. “He was really strong. All Penske cars were extremely strong.
“It was all about what can we do different to them to be able to just have a shot at getting by them. I had to use my tires a bit much. I think Will was on the same train battling with me and Palou, Marcus. So I think we used up our tires a little bit more than what Josef did. He had a little bit more to give in the end.
“Yeah, I was happy with my car. Didn’t really start off very good. We were just extremely, extremely loose. As we saw in the 7 car, unfortunate. Yeah, glad Felix is okay. We need to see what we can do better for tomorrow to not have that because it took a lot of pit stops to get it into a window where we could actually attack rather than just being a little bit of a passenger.
“Josef had different gearing to us. I’m pretty sure he was aware of that. So the team told me to do a certain thing, which I did. It was pretty horrendous and we got passed by two guys, I think.
“In the next one I did the opposite, and it worked. Yeah, it’s hard to say, right? You don’t know who’s going to be leading you. You don’t know if you’re going to be the one leading. Obviously you’re going to do the best for whatever is your pattern, gearbox pattern.
“But, yeah, we only let it catch us out once. I think Will did, as well.
“Yeah, really happy with our day.”
He should be happy. This was a finish O’Ward badly needed. It was his 1st podium result since the Indianapolis 500 back on May 29. That day, he moved up to 2nd in points. He had 3 top 5’s in that 4 race span including a win at Barber on May 1.
However, June was a rough month for him. He was 5th in Belle Isle and 26th in Road America after a mechanical failure. On July 3, he had another mechanical failure and was 25th. Last week, he qualified 15th in Toronto and finished 11th. That dropped him to 6th in points (-75) heading into this race weekend.
However, short ovals are great tracks for O’Ward. He was 4th in Race 1 here in 2020. At another short oval in Gateway, he had 3 straight podiums including the last two being runner-ups.
“Yeah, really solid points day for us today,” he continued.
Now, he gets another runner-up and moves to 59 points behind. He’ll roll off 8th on Sunday.