Better late than never. The 104th Running of the Indianapolis 500 was well worth the wait, as the 500-mile race brought more than its fair share of excitement for Arrow McLaren SP and the entire 33-car field.
All three Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolets got off to a strong start in the race, with Pato O’Ward quickly making his way into the top 10 and Oliver Askew taking an alternate strategy.
Askew, in the No. 7 car, was able to become the lead car on the alternate strategy and even led laps early in the race. However, a scary incident on Lap 109 caused him to lose control of the car, ending what could have been a promising race for the American rookie. He recorded a DNF and was classified 30th.
Fernando Alonso showed early pace as well, despite starting all the way back in 26th. He was able to make up 11 positions in the first half of the race, getting as high as 15th until a clutch issue found him stuck on pit lane, putting the No. 66 car a lap down. The team persevered, pushing the car out of the box on every pit stop and overcoming the challenge to finish the race in 21st.
O’Ward and the No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP team continued to make their way toward the front with strong driving and perfect pit stops. The Mexican driver got has high as third, before dropping back to sixth on a hectic restart. A late incident took away any hope of gaining spots on the final laps, as the race ended under yellow with O’Ward finishing sixth, the second-highest Chevrolet. This result was more than enough to earn him Rookie of the Year honors and impress fans watching everywhere.
The Arrow McLaren SP team heads to World Wide Technology Raceway this weekend for an exciting doubleheader outside St. Louis. Tune in to NBCSN for Race One on Saturday at 3:00 p.m. ET and Sunday for Race Two at 3:00 p.m. ET.
Pato O’Ward – No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet
“The No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP team did everything we could to get to the front today. My crew did an amazing job in the pit stops. We were fighting up there with Dixon, Rossi and Takuma – great job to him. Towards the end we just didn’t have enough to get those in front of us. I think we juiced out the car and got everything out of it. We were right behind Josef in 5th for Chevrolet, so I think it was a good job for my first ever Indy 500. Obviously here the only thing that matters is winning. I’m excited to come back next year and try and get that win as this place is pretty special. For now, just collecting and move onto Gateway.”
Oliver Askew, No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet
Finished: 30th (DNF)
“First of all I need to thank the AMR Safety Team, Dallara, and INDYCAR for keeping us as safe as possible in these cars going these speeds. I’m sorry for the No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP team, they’ve worked so hard all week, all month, all year building up to this event. So, to have a result like this is really sad for all of us but we will move on to Gateway next weekend. I was really happy with the pace we had and the aggressive strategies we were running. We were trying to make something happen with passing being at a premium at this race. Thanks again to the team for all their hard work.”
Fernando Alonso, No. 66 Ruoff Mortgage Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet
“It was a very eventful race for us, we didn’t have one lap of kindness let’s say. We were struggling from the very beginning with the balance of the car with a lot oversteer. We kept changing that balance in the pit stops, reducing the front flap, doing tire adjustments and then we started to be happy with the car. We were up to P15 around Lap 110, which is where we wanted to be. We spent half the race going from P26 to P15 and then we had a clutch problem on the car that we didn’t know how to solve. We finished the race without the clutch, so from that point on every pit stop we had to push the car, engage the gear and go. That cost us a lap and unfortunately, we kept that lap down untill the end and we could not achieve anything more.
I’m happy to finish the race, cross the line and have one 500 miles in the pocket, that’s the positive thing. The negative is that we were out of contention very quickly with the clutch problem. Anyway, I think the Arrow McLaren SP team was fantastic during the race, the strategy and pit stops meant we were always gaining positions. I’m very proud of the work we’ve done over the last couple of weeks. We tried to race but luck was not with us today, but I’m proud of the effort from everyone in the team.”
Taylor Kiel, Managing Director, Arrow McLaren SP
“What a day. It certainly felt different than any other Indy 500 that I have been a part of. Obviously, the ambience was quite different but once we got into racing, it felt pretty much the same. The intensity was there but the conditions were very tough for us all day long. The track temps were very high which made it tough for everybody. We were struggling with the handling in traffic with all three cars but we made some serious gains in the pits. I think we gained a lot of spots with the No. 5 car, which put us in position in the front of the pack. Likewise, we had Oliver on an alternate strategy that got him to the front. When we were able to race at the front, the cars were good.
All in all, it was a monumental effort for everyone at Arrow McLaren SP. Pato drove a great race. It was an unfortunate ending for Oliver, and also with Fernando and the issue he had, but I’m really proud of the team and the effort that went into this entire race. We’re on to Gateway and can’t wait to come back here next May.”
Gil de Ferran, Sporting Director, McLaren Racing
“I think it was a mixed day for Arrow McLaren SP in general. Obviously, Pato brought it home in sixth pace which is not a win, but not bad. We had an accident with Oliver which was unfortunate and seemed like no fault of his own. Thankfully he is okay and he was running strong early in the race, so that was encouraging to see. For Fernando, we had a handling issue off the bat, and we were trying to improve the car throughout. We were up to 15th but the handling wasn’t there all day. Unfortunately then we had a clutch issue. We were on the lead lap the whole time, but with the clutch issue we lost a lap. Then every pit stop after that we couldn’t engage the clutch and had to push the car, losing a lot of time every stop. Fernando soldiered on and put on a brave show. The guys in the pits did an amazing job and the strategy team on the stand did also. We were unfortunate with a small failure that put fate to any greater hopes. We did as well as we could have hoped in those circumstances.”