Pato O’Ward made a perfect start to his career at Andretti Autosport when he led the opening round of the 2018 Indy Lights championship from start to finish.
With polesitter Aaron Telitz having shunted his Belardi Auto Racing car during the qualifying session for Race 2, O’Ward had a clear chance to burst into the lead at the start.
Behind him, the second Belardi car of Santi Urrutia came through into second, while third-placed qualifier, Andretti Steinbrenner Racing’s Colton Herta, bogged down at the start, handing third to the Juncos Racing entry piloted by reigning Pro Mazda champion Victor Franzoni.
It took until Lap 19 for Herta to get back into a podium position, after finally making a Turn 1 move on Franzoni stick.
By that point, O’Ward’s lead was 3.8sec, with 12sec separating Urrutia from third place, and the battle was effectively settled. Urrutia lost time to O’Ward but Herta made no gains on him, while simultaneously dropping Franzoni to the tune of 16sec.
Shelby Blackstock’s Team Pelfrey car clung onto fifth place ahead of Andretti Autosport’s Dalton Kellett until Pelfrey’s Neil Alberico made an overambitious move down the inside at Turn 1, and spun Kellett to a standstill.
That allowed Andretti’s other driver, Ryan Norman, into seventh and a couple of laps from home he pressured Alberico into going straight on at Turn 1, and relinquishing sixth.