O’Ward holds off strong challenge for victory
Patricio O’Ward continued his domination of the Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires, to earn his sixth win in seven races, but with Garett Grist pushing him all the way.
The Texas-based Mexican O’Ward started his Team Pelfrey car from pole but unlike in previous races, he could not escape the attention of Juncos Racing’s Grist, who finished 0.6sec behind after 90 laps.
Argentinean rookie Nicolas Dapero had qualified second, but relinquished the spot to Juncos teammate Grist at the end of the first lap, and thereafter his attention was taken with holding off another teammate, Australia’s Jake Parsons.
He did this successfully pulling away from Parsons in the closing stages to earn his first podium finish. Aaron Telitz (Team Pelfrey) and Will Owen (Juncos) were fifth and sixth respectively, in a field of only eight cars.
“I’m stoked! I won every race in the month of May, so I’m very excited,” said an elated O’Ward. “We struggled here last year, but I had a podium in Iowa so it was a matter of finding the good [short-oval] setup.
“To get the pole and the win is fantastic. After the third lap, Garett was on my tail. This is not an easy oval. I had to be consistent and keep the car controlled. I wanted to win, but we’re also focused on the championship. I have to focus on my races and be consistent, because championships can be lost toward the end of a season.”
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