Mexican IndyCar driver and racing sensation, Pato O’Ward, age 23 won the Hy-Vee Salute to Farmers 300 race on Sunday, July 24 at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. O’Ward, born in Monterrey, Mexico and raised in San Antonio, Texas was Rookie of the Year in 2020 and has made a name for himself in the race world, winning various championships and over 50 races before competing at the 2022 Indy 500 in May, where he came in second. Coming into the race weekend in Iowa, the young Arrow McLaren SP driver was expected to perform well, and he delivered.
“We knew that we had a great car, so it was all about just capitalizing and being there when it counted,” O’Ward said. “The guys did a great job calling when we had to pit. It was very, very enjoyable.”
The victory, coupled with his second-place finish the day prior in the HyVeeDeals.com 250, a race that consists of 250 laps on “the world’s fastest short track” helped O’Ward climb from sixth to fifth in the series standings. He came in at 36 points behind leader, and the 2022 Indy 500 winner, Marcus Ericsson. The two races in Iowa were the only NTT IndyCar doubleheader on the 2022 series schedule.
O’Ward earned his second victory of the season – he also won the May 1 race on the road course at Barber Motorsports Park – and the July win marked the fourth win of his NTT INDYCAR SERIES career. He’s hungry for more wins as he gains popularity among race fans and sponsors.
“Hopefully we can win a couple more,” O’Ward said. “That would be fantastic. We’ve had a good year, but we’ve dumped two wins in the past couple of months. So, it’s definitely been a frustrating, but rewarding few weeks. This is the perfect momentum we need. The No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP guys in the pits were awesome,” O’Ward said. “That’s what gave us our win.”
O’Ward’s victory in Iowa was the highlight of the Hy-vee IndyCar Race Weekend, a fun-filled event that was an amazing experience for everyone, not just racing fans.
The weekend races were complemented with a Free Family Friday where fans of all ages got a behind-the-scenes look at the racetrack as well as the garages. Fans also got to meet some of the drivers and their pit crews who keep the cars in top shape for the track. The Free Family Day also featured live music from Newton native Cody Carter, a rising country music star who came all the way from his home in California, and Okoboji native Damon Dotson, who was named Des Moines’ Best Local Musician of 2022 by CITYVIEW Magazine.
The weekend also featured concerts by country music legend Tim McGraw on Saturday, and pop icon Gwen Stefani on Sunday who kicked off the Hy-Vee Salute to Farmers 300 race. She shared with the audience that it was the first time she had ever opened for her husband, country music star Blake Shelton, who closed out the day with his performance after the race.
Iowans and race fans were not the only ones impressed by the headlining musicians. The Hola Iowa team ran into the Brazilian 4-time Indy 500 winner Hélio Castroneves in the audience enjoying Sunday’s concert. He was ready for his post-concert race, sporting his racing suit as he rocked out to Stefani’s music.
The weekend was memorable for celebrities, musicians, racers, and fans lucky enough to witness it all. Pato O’Ward shared with Hola Iowa that he was impressed with the job Hy-Vee had done to make of this race weekend a unique experience. “I think it’s really worth mentioning what Hy-Vee and Penske have done for this weekend it’s really cool to see…I think their approach to everything has been phenomenal… I think we can learn a lot about this weekend and how well they’ve done it,” he said.
Seems like O’Ward wasn’t the only big winner in Iowa. If Hy-Vee continues to take the lead supporting this type of racing events at the speedway, they will change the summer landscape with a can’t-miss family event all Iowans can be proud of.