O’Ward: Portland test put Arrow McLaren SP “where we belong”

Pato O’Ward, who won his third IndyCar pole of the season at Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course today, is convinced the Arrow McLaren SP-Chevrolet team’s recent Portland test has boosted his chances of going for the championship.

O’Ward: Portland test put Arrow McLaren SP “where we belong”

Although O’Ward slipped to third in the standings following last weekend’s Nashville race, he remains only 48 points behind leader Alex Palou of Chip Ganassi Racing-Honda, and in qualifying for tomorrow’s Big Machine Spiked Cooler Grand Prix, he clocked he narrowly edged Will Power to claim the fourth pole of his career.

“We've had a very tough last few races,” said the 21-year-old Mexican who won at Texas Motor Speedway and in Detroit Race 2. “I'm tired of being in the middle pack.

“We had a great test in Portland. What we found there I knew was going to help us here. So the goal is definitely to truly return where we belong, which is contending for podiums, for poles, ultimately for wins…

“There's still five races to go. I know racing. Things can spiral down very quick or they can spiral up very quick. I just think the focus on really executing on every single session that we do from now until [finale] Long Beach checkered flag is going to be critical.

“But I'm not far back. I can definitely claw my way back into the fight for this championship. That is the goal. We've been fighting for it kind of all year.

“What I truly want, I want to get to Long Beach with a proper, legit chance of winning the championship. I'm excited. I think we have some great circuits for us coming up. I'm really excited.”

Regarding the Portland test, O’Ward said his car “just handles better. We've had a quick car in many places, but damn it's a handful. It is so hard to drive. I think we have found something that just is more predictable, that just makes it a lot easier on Felix [Rosenqvist, teammate] and I to actually get laps in lap after lap consistently.

“We’ve just been really focused on trying to make a better package for both qualifying and the race. One thing is to have a qualifying car and one thing is to have a racecar. We're trying to maximize both. I feel like that's where we have lacked a little bit in terms of we've had a very strong qualifying car and then we don't have anything for the race, but then we'll have a great racecar but in qualifying we're just not quite there…

“[This] feels like a breath of fresh air. It just shows us what we've been working on in testing, in our mini break, worked. I'm very excited. Not just for tomorrow, I really want to turn the page this weekend. I feel like we have. We've done a good job so far.

“But tomorrow we have a big job ahead. Just keep doing it. Gateway is coming up. We had a very strong race there last year. Portland, Laguna, they're all tracks I really enjoy. I think we're going to have a strong package. We have to maximize every single one and I think that's going to put us right where we want to be.”

Given his title aspirations, O’Ward said he’s “not going to do something stupid” in tomorrow’s race.

“Whenever you have a chance to win, you need to take those points and win because it's not like every weekend you go and you can win. We're definitely going for that.

“But if we can't manage to do that, I'm not going to do something stupid and put it in the wall. We need to be smart. We're obviously going for it. If we can't win, then we take second. Still a lot of points.

“Yeah, man, I'm just really looking forward to turning the page to our very crappy last three races, close out this weekend very strong, and don't look back until the checkered flag waves in Long Beach.”

shares
comments
Lundgaard: Family will “have a heart attack” over grid position

Previous article

Lundgaard: Family will “have a heart attack” over grid position

Next article

Power misses pole, but happy he’s back in the groove again

Power misses pole, but happy he’s back in the groove again
Load comments
Remembering Dan Wheldon and his last and most amazing win Prime

Remembering Dan Wheldon and his last and most amazing win

Saturday, Oct. 16th, marks the 10th anniversary Dan Wheldon’s death. David Malsher-Lopez pays tribute, then asks Wheldon’s race engineer from 2011, Todd Malloy, to recall that magical second victory at the Indianapolis 500.

IndyCar
Oct 16, 2021
Have Harvey and RLL formed IndyCar’s next winning match-up? Prime

Have Harvey and RLL formed IndyCar’s next winning match-up?

Jack Harvey’s move to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing sparked plenty of debate, but their combined strength could prove golden, says David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Oct 15, 2021
Why Kyle Kirkwood is America's new IndyCar ace-in-waiting Prime

Why Kyle Kirkwood is America's new IndyCar ace-in-waiting

Kyle Kirkwood, the record-setting junior formula driver, sealed the Indy Lights championship last weekend. But despite an absurdly strong résumé and scholarship money, his next move is far from clear. By David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Oct 6, 2021
2021 IndyCar title is just the start for Ganassi's newest star Prime

2021 IndyCar title is just the start for Ganassi's newest star

Alex Palou has captured Chip Ganassi Racing's 14th IndyCar drivers' championship, and in truly stellar manner. David Malsher-Lopez explains what made the Palou-Ganassi combo so potent so soon.

IndyCar
Sep 28, 2021
Why Grosjean's oval commitment shows he's serious about IndyCar Prime

Why Grosjean's oval commitment shows he's serious about IndyCar

One of motorsport’s worst-kept secrets now out in the open, and Romain Grosjean has been confirmed as an Andretti Autosport IndyCar driver in 2022. It marks a remarkable turnaround after the abrupt end to his Formula 1 career, and is a firm indication of his commitment to challenge for the IndyCar Series title  

IndyCar
Sep 24, 2021
IndyCar’s longest silly-season is still at fever pitch Prime

IndyCar’s longest silly-season is still at fever pitch

The 2021 IndyCar silly season is one of the silliest of all, but it’s satisfying to see so many talented drivers in play – including Callum Ilott. David Malsher-Lopez reports.

IndyCar
Sep 11, 2021
IndyCar young guns are great, but the elders aren’t done yet Prime

IndyCar young guns are great, but the elders aren’t done yet

The ace 20-somethings in IndyCar have risen to become title contenders, but the best of the series veterans are digging deep and responding – and will continue to do so over the next couple of years, says David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Aug 20, 2021
The F1 champion who became an Indy king in his second career Prime

The F1 champion who became an Indy king in his second career

Emerson Fittipaldi’s decision to go racing with his brother led to him falling out of F1, but he bloomed again on the IndyCar scene. NIGEL ROEBUCK considers a career of two halves

Formula 1
Jul 31, 2021