Monday, March 27, 2023

O’Ward’s second for Arrow McLaren SP ahead of stout Indy 500

Indianapolis ( Associated Press) — Pato O’Ward stood crestfallen on Pitt Road for another year as another potential Indianapolis 500 win loomed out of reach. O’Ward had Marcus Ericsson, but after 12 minutes on the pit road failed to figure out how to jump from the final restart on the Indy 500 champion.

Arrow McLaren SP’s centerpiece gave it his best shot, and it still wasn’t enough to secure the win.

“I really don’t think I could have done it any better,” O’Ward said. “I feel like I did absolutely everything in my power to position myself to get it.”

Perfect at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The final sprint to the checkered flag is not as impeccable as Ericsson’s race.

O’Ward finished second at the Indy 500 on Sunday, perhaps a crushing feeling for the Mexican driver but the high point in a strong race for McLaren. Felix Rosenquist finished fourth – and was the second best Swede behind Ericsson – and two-time Indy 500 champion Juan Pablo Montoya was in 11th place.

Not a bad showing at the first Indy 500 for McLaren, which is majority-owned by the race team.

“Don’t get too close,” said McLaren Racing CEO Zack Brown. “If you say you’ll take a second, fourth and 11th to get into the race, you’ll say yes. But sitting here right now feels a little disappointing. But the team did a great job.”

O’Ward, a 23-year-old debutante, finished fourth at last year’s Indy 500 and felt he didn’t have enough momentum to nab the winner; Helio Castroneves at Ericsson on Sunday, 2021. O’Ward is running No. 5 for Arrow McLaren in his third season and is considered a contender for the championship. O’Ward and McLaren announced a contract extension through the 2025 season that included a McLaren for personal use at McLaren and potential opportunities for McLaren’s Formula One team.

Sure, a McLaren is good. But he would definitely love to add the Borg-Warner Trophy to his collection.

“They gave me a car that was fantastic,” O’Ward said. “They gave all of us really, really cool cars.”

O’Ward and Rosenquist also gave Chevrolet their best finish in a race where Honda placed six cars in the top 10 (including the winner). McLaren also bested the Team Penske fleet of Chevy drivers Joseph Newgarden (13th), Will Power (15th) and Scott McLaughlin (29th).

Rosenquist shared O’Ward’s dismay at how the ending played out. Jimmy Johnson crashed with four laps remaining and this caused a red flag stop at the speedway. This was not enough time for Rosenquist to find his way to victory.

He also lost to 2013 champion Tony Kanan, who finished third.

“I went for it. I wanted to bring Tony over there,” he said. “I held him for a while but he strangled me from outside and he took me back.”

Rosenquist is in a contract year with McLaren and is fighting for his job. One victory could have changed everything for him.

“I think once you get there, it looks like anyone can win,” he said. “I wasn’t really happy with the car last stint. We went a little too far on the loose side. My confidence was a bit low after Marcus passed.”

McLaren, which made its mark in the Formula One team, is determined to become North America’s official team and has garnered fans and sponsorships throughout the United States, Mexico and Canada. There’s no doubt McLaren is trending, and the 2019 debacle when an unprepared team failed to see Fernando Alonso qualify for the Indy 500 is behind them.

Now the biggest bite in May comes from just missing out on a win rather than a race.

Which of his three drivers did Brown feel bad for?

“I’m not quite sure,” he said. “Me? I had to see all three.”


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