Pato O'Ward – Meet IndyCar's rising star
Pato O’Ward is one of IndyCar’s brightest young stars. But the upcoming Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix provided him with one of his darkest moments of 2019.
It was on the 2.35-mile, 14-turn street course on Belle Isle where the Mexico native turned in one of the worst performances of his rookie year in the series, finishing 14th out of 22 drivers in Race 1 and 11th in Race 2. It was one of seven races he’d run that year after signing a part-time deal with Carlin and he wound up finishing 26th in points.
But 2020, a bad year for most everybody, proved to be the 22-year-old’s breakthrough season. In a pandemic-abbreviated 14-race schedule, he took fourth place in the IndyCar standings, registering four podium finishes and one pole. And in his inaugural appearance in the Indianapolis 500, he wound up in sixth place, thus earning him the race’s Rookie of the Year honors.
This season, it’s been more of the same for the driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet for Arrow McLaren SP, as he’s in second place in series points as of mid-May, with two podiums in four starts, including his first IndyCar win at Texas Motor Speedway, which he considers his home track.
Saturday and Sunday, June 12 and 13, he’ll be looking to put the bad memories of two years ago in the Motor City behind him when he vies with a field including Scott Dixon, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Josef Newgarden and Takuma Sato in the twin races of the 2021 Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix, both of which air on NBC.
Full name: Patricio “Pato” O’Ward
Birth date: May 6, 1999
Birthplace: Monterrey, Mexico
Height: 5 feet 8 inches
Car: No. 5 Chevrolet
Team: Arrow McLaren SP
IndyCar wins: 1
Top 10s: 15
Honors and achievements: 2018 Indy Lights series champion; 2020 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year