Pato O'Ward will never forget his first win in the NTT IndyCar Series, for the sheer achievement as well as for the special bonus prize rewarded to the Arrow McLaren SP driver by McLaren Racing boss Zak Brown.
In Sunday's race at the Texas Motor Speedway, the 21-year-old became the first Mexican to win an IndyCar race since Adrian Fernandez in 2004. And with that milestone accomplishment has come a special prize, because "a deal is a deal" as Brown reminded his driver on Twitter.
For delivering his first IndyCar win, O'Ward will get the chance to test an F1 car at Abu Dhabi at the end of this season.
— Zak Brown (@ZBrownCEO) May 2, 2021
The Arrows McLaren SP charger had spent most of his afternoon in the 248-lap race on the 1.5-mile oval as a mere mid-field contender, with Saturday's winner Scott Dixon appearing set for a repeat win in a race marked by a massive pile-up at the start that cut the field down by 25 per cent!
But in the second part of the event, O'Ward came into his own, going on the attack, braving it against Will Power in a daring pass that just barely avoided a terminal conclusion.
In the closing stages, O'Ward came into contention, running a lap longer than his front-running rivals thanks to better fuel management, but also thanks to a rapid top-up in the pitlane skillfully executed by his crew and another caution period triggered by AMSP teammate Felix Rosenqvist.
When the action resumed on lap 199, O'Ward made his move, engaging in a showdown with Penske's Josef Newgarden from his emerged the worthy victor after taking the lead on lap 226
"Finally, man!" enthused the Mexican, who spent many years growing up in Texas. "Everybody at this team has been doing such a good job.
"I couldn’t be happier. Texas, it’s close to my heart."
As for Brown's special F1 prize, it can't happen soon enough for O'Ward.
"Yes, he's going to pay up! Where is my F1 test? I want a McLaren!"
— NTT INDYCAR SERIES (@IndyCar) May 2, 2021