In the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, doubleheader weekends are a test of every team’s speed, stamina, and resolve.
The first of two action-packed days at Road America had more than its fair share of ups and downs but at the end of a very long day one, Arrow McLaren SP finished with a solid result and something to build on for day two.
Saturday in Elkhart Lake began with the weekend’s only practice session, giving the entire field only 75 minutes to prepare their entries for the 4.048-mile road course. The Chevrolets of Pato O’Ward and Oliver Askew both worked on finding pace throughout the session. O’Ward finished practice in 10th and Askew wasn’t far behind in 13th.
The duo was split in qualifying, with O’Ward in Group 1 and Askew in Group 2. The Mexican was able to adapt to a steering issue to qualify the No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet in 12th. Askew struggled to find clear track to put down a flying lap and ended qualifying 21st.
Lap 1 of REV Group Grand Prix Race One saw immediate excitement throughout the entire field. The 23 Indy cars managed to avoid a yellow flag and the race began to settle in. O’Ward and Askew each were able to make passes in the final laps, and at the end of the day, the AMSP drivers had made up a combined ten places with O’Ward finishing eighth and Askew 15th.
On Sunday at Road America, Arrow McLaren SP raced at the front all day and securing its first podium of the season in just the fourth race of the year.
In qualifying, Askew received a drive-through penalty that compromised the No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP’s chance to start near the front and would start the race in 18th. His teammate, O’Ward, went out and found speed, putting together an almost picture-perfect flying lap as the checkered flag waved. He grabbed the team’s first pole of the season and the first pole of O’Ward’s young career.
O’Ward would start the second race of the doubleheader weekend with his former Indy Lights teammate, Colton Herta, right behind him, creating the youngest front row in INDYCAR history. The No. 5 got off to a blistering start, creating a gap on the field and putting down quick laps. The team put together flawless pit stops all day, and kept O’Ward at the front of the field.
The race came down to the final five laps, when Felix Rosenqvist began gaining on the No. 5 car and closing the gap. With only one more lap to go, the Chip Ganassi Racing driver made his move and went on to win the race. O’Ward kept his head down and finished the race in second, his first-career podium and the team’s best finish of the year.
The day wasn’t as rosey for Oliver Askew, who was hit from behind on Lap 1, causing damage to the rear of the car and the gearbox. The rest of the day for Askew was about bringing the car home, as he lost capabilities with his airjack and shifting. Askew showed incredible perseverance and finishing the race in 21st.
Arrow McLaren SP heads to Iowa next, for a doubleheader on the short oval next weekend. Tune in on NBCSN on Friday, July 17 at 8:30 p.m. ET and Saturday, July 18 at 8:30 p.m. ET.
“Today was really tough. The Ganassi cars and Felix had a lot of pace. We did a really good job managing the whole race. Toward the end, we had to mix with some lapped cars and some dirty air and it really hurt us. I gave it every single little bit that I had. I was pushing, pushing, pushing but I couldn’t keep Felix behind me. I really want to thank Arrow McLaren SP and Team Chevy. The car was really, really good but missed that little extra to keep the rear tires under us. We’re here. We got some good points this weekend. We are looking forward to Iowa. We like running up front, and I think we showed we have everything to do it.”
“Looking forward to putting this behind us. Our race was compromised from the beginning after being hit in the rear. Lost a lot of downforce from the under wing and also had a gearbox issue so we were way behind pace and focused on finishing the race. Really unfortunate circumstances, and definitely a weekend to put behind us. We are taking this as a learning experience and moving on to Iowa next week. Pato proved that the Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolets can compete for the win so hopefully I can join him at the front.”
“It was a tale of two races for the Arrow McLaren SP car today. The No. 7 car found themselves behind the eight ball early on after contact. They lost shifting and air jack capabilities so the pit stops and the shifting on track was compromised. Oliver battled all race to try and stay with the field but it was a lost cause. I’m proud of that group for sticking with it and making it to the finish with a wounded car. On the other hand, Pato and his team dominated the race all day from start to finish. The pit stops were really good, the strategy was great, and the team proved that they could compete for the win today. Unfortunately, we fell a few laps short and were overtaken by a car with better tires at the end of the race. Hats off to them. I’m really proud of the entire Arrow McLaren SP team this weekend. It’s been tough, we’ve had some adversity but we’ve overcome and shown what we are made of. I’m excited to get to Iowa so we can show our pace on the ovals.”