IndyCar: The near-impossibility Pato O'Ward unknowingly achieved

IndyCar hadn't had a 50-point race winner since 2012 until Pato O'Ward was declared the victory of a race that happened 45 days prior.
Pato O'Ward, Arrow McLaren, IndyCar
Pato O'Ward, Arrow McLaren, IndyCar / Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

Thanks to Team Penske's Josef Newgarden being disqualified due to a (six-week) late discovery of a manipulation of the push-to-pass overtake system, Arrow McLaren's Pato O'Ward has been declared the winner of the IndyCar season-opening race on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

When the race actually happened, 45 days before the violation was revealed to the public, O'Ward originally finished in second place. The revised win is officially the fifth of his career and his first since July 2022 when he won at Iowa Speedway.

Newgarden, unlike teammate Scott McLaughlin, who was also disqualified from third place, did retain one point from the race weekend, thanks to the fact that he took the pole position. He lost all of the points he earned for leading laps (one for leading a lap, two more for leading the most laps).

Newgarden led 92 of the 100 laps around the 14-turn, 1.8-mile (2.897-kilometer) temporary street circuit. The only other two lap leaders were Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing's Christian Lundgaard (seven laps) and Andretti Global's Colton Herta (one).

Pato O'Ward achieves near-statistical IndyCar impossibility

With Newgarden disqualified, nobody was credited for leading the 92 laps he led. So not only was Lundgaard not credited with two bonus points for leading the most laps; O'Ward himself was not credited for leading any laps.

As a result, the driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet became the first driver to win an IndyCar race and score 50 points since Ryan Hunter-Reay won on the streets of Baltimore, Maryland in 2012.

Prior to 2013, drivers were not awarded a point for leading a lap unless they led the most laps, in which case they were awarded two. Beginning in 2013, IndyCar added that extra point simply for leading at least one lap.

So on paper, a race winner must score at least 51 points, even though a win officially pays 50, since you can't win a race without leading a lap.

O'Ward, on a random Wednesday six and a half weeks after crossing the finish line, has now proven that you can.

Even though he technically would have led with Newgarden not factored into the equation, he is officially scored with zero laps led in St. Petersburg, giving him the first 50-point IndyCar win in 12 years, a mathematical impossibility barring a totally unforeseen circumstance such as this one.

dark. Next. IndyCar legend has literally had three Hall of Fame careers in one. IndyCar legend has literally had three Hall of Fame careers in one

It may very well be the final 50-point win IndyCar ever sees. Then again, we all thought that about Hunter-Reay's Baltimore win 12 years ago.