Gentlemen, start your engines.
The Indianapolis 500, one of the greatest spectacles in motorsport, is finally upon us – albeit three months later than originally scheduled, as we waved goodbye to the Month of May in the wake of a global pandemic. Now set to take place behind closed doors, the 104th Running of the Indianapolis 500 will be like none we have seen before and, we hope, none that will follow.
But don’t for one second think that the absence of fans means this great sporting event will be devoid of the customary magic and magnificence that only it can evoke. Arrow McLaren SP drivers Pato O’Ward, Oliver Askew and Fernando Alonso are primed for battle at the Brickyard – a circuit that’s as much a thing of beauty as it is an unrelenting test of man and machine.
Hard-charging rookies Pato and Oliver line up on the grid with the chance to join an exclusive club of just 10 drivers who have won the Indy 500 on their first attempt. Meanwhile, Fernando is on the brink of joining an even more exclusive club: victory would see him complete motorsport’s coveted Triple Crown and join the great Graham Hill as the only drivers to win the Indy 500, Monaco Grand Prix and 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway:
Dates: Sunday, August 23rd, 2020
Race laps: 200
Total race distance: 500 miles/804.7 km
Length: 2.5 miles/4.02 km
Number of turns: 4
Green Flag: 2:30 p.m. ET
TUNE IN – NBC: 1:00 p.m. ET
TUNE IN – Sky Sports F1: 7:30PM BST
Pato O’Ward, No 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet
“I’m really looking forward to the race and getting my first Indy 500 under my belt. I think the work we did on Friday is going to have a lot of influence over how we perform. It was an important day because we focused on trying to ensure we have a strong package for race day, particularly when running in traffic.
Looking ahead to Sunday, hopefully I’ll be pouring milk all over myself but if I’m not, then I hope we have a clean race and a strong result. And, of course, winning Rookie of the Year would be a nice reward too.
Qualifying didn’t go so well last year, which meant I didn’t make the race. Honestly, a year ago I wasn’t even sure I would be back here. I had no idea what was in store for me, but I knew that if I worked hard, did my best and focused on the things that I could control, everything would fall into place. Here I am, about to race in the Indy 500, with a great team of people behind me.”
Oliver Askew, No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet
“I feel fantastic heading into the race. We’ve executed well throughout the season and I don’t see that changing. I have so much confidence in the team, we just need to go out there and do our thing.
As a rookie, the past couple of weeks have been a great learning experience for me and I’m sure I will learn plenty more in the race too. Winning the Freedom 100 last year gave me some valuable experience and track knowledge, but driving an IndyCar around here is quite different to an Indy Lights car. The style of racing is different too, but the Road to Indy has prepared me well for this.
I’ve watched a lot of on-board and television footage from previous years to try to learn from other people’s mistakes, and I’ve also gone through a lot of data. There’s only so much you can do though. There will be stuff that happens in the moment, which you might not have expected, and that’s when it will be about reacting as best as possible.
On race day, we’re really going to miss the fans and the energy they bring, but I hope they can enjoy the race on TV. I’ve got close friends and family back home in Florida who will be having a socially distanced watch party and I’ve got family in Sweden who will be tuning in too.”
Fernando Alonso, No. 66 Ruoff Mortgage Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet
“It feels great to be back at the Brickyard. I’m grateful to be here because I know how special and important this race is – just being a part of it is a privilege. I wanted to have another go at the Indy 500 because last year we didn’t do a good enough job. We were not at the level we wanted to be. We wanted to try again to show everyone that, even though we failed, we are racers and that means we are prepared to come back and go again. This is a fantastic opportunity and I’m excited to work with the team to really show what we can do.
We know that the challenge in front of us is huge, but the experience so far has been great. Everyone at Arrow McLaren SP has been amazing from day one – the team has a lot of potential and very talented people. Although we’re starting further back than we would like, anything can happen. The race is long and will offer opportunities to all 33 cars at one point or another. It requires a bit of luck, but you also have to do your best and take every opportunity when it comes.
With fans unable to come to the circuit, there will be a lot of people following the race on television from all over the world, including my home country Spain, and I hope we can put on a good show for them to enjoy.”