Pato O’Ward isn’t quite ready to give up his dreams of racing in the Verizon IndyCar Series despite his recent success in the sports car world.
O’Ward, the 17-year-old native Mexican who now resides in San Antonio, was part of Performance Tech Motorsports’ class-winning effort at the Rolex 24 At Daytona and will race with the Prototype Challenge team in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship full-time this year. He has signed to race with Team Pelfrey in the season-opening Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires weekend at St. Petersburg, Florida.
“We are very excited to confirm Pato on the Indy Lights front,” said Team Pelfrey Indy Lights team manager Gary Neal. “Not only does this mean we have an exceptionally talented driver, but it’s also great to see the Team Pelfrey ladder system in full swing. We are looking forward to a strong outing at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.”
O’Ward, who finished second in the Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires in 2016 with seven wins for Team Pelfrey, will drive the No. 3 Mazda with sponsorship from Topo Chico and Gap Guard, beginning with the Indy Lights spring training test at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Thursday.
“I am back with Team Pelfrey in Indy Lights for the first official series test and for the first race of the season in St. Petersburg,” O’Ward said. “A big thank you goes to the creator of Gap Guard, better known as Dale Pelfrey, once again for the opportunity and the whole Team Pelfrey crew as well for the continuous support they have given me the last few years.”
All three levels of the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires -- the development ladder sanctioned by INDYCAR to groom talented drivers and teams -- will contest doubleheader races over the March 10-12 race weekend at St. Petersburg.