2020 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg – Race Report
The first win of Pato O’Ward’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES career has seemed to be just around the corner all year long, with the 21-year-old driver falling just short at multiple tracks including Road America and Gateway. The season finale on the Streets of St. Petersburg was no different, as he once again finished on the second step of the podium.
The weekend started strong for Pato, as he muscled his way into the Firestone Fast Six during qualifying on Saturday. He had his sights set on a front row start but made a mistake in Turn 1 of his flying lap, forcing him to settle for a starting position of sixth. Oliver Askew was just behind his teammate, barely missing the Fast Six and finishing qualifying in 10th.
The race went green under the brutal heat of the Florida sun on Sunday afternoon with O’Ward immediately passing Jack Harvey to take fifth on the start. From there, he settled into his strategy, waiting the race to come to him. He kept himself in the top 5 picture the entire race, avoiding the chaos and yellow that were dropping cars from the field at a rapid pace.
The race came down to the final restart with Pato restarting in fourth. He made the most of it, passing two cars to get into second. All that stood between him and the lead was Josef Newgarden but he couldn’t quite catch the eventual race winner and finished in second.
Askew was having a strong race as well, heading for a top ten finish in his home race when he was taken out by another driver. He ended up finishing 16th after having to take an extra pit stop to replace his front wing and repair damage.
The 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season, easily the most unique in the history of the sport, comes to a close. In his first full season in an Indy car, Pato O’Ward finished an impressive fourth in the championship with four podiums, one pole position, and Rookie of the Year at the 104th Running of the Indianapolis 500. Oliver Askew, a rookie, finishes 19th in the championship with one podium.
Pato O’Ward, Driver, No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet
“I’m so proud of Arrow McLaren SP and myself for what we accomplished this year. Our win will have to wait. We came in second place in the season finale, just five points short of third place in the championship. We have lots to be proud of. I’m really grateful for the opportunity that I got. I think we showcased that we are a force to be reckoned with and we are going to be pushing next year to give these veterans a harder time. Hopefully, bring it to the last race and win this championship.”
Oliver Askew, Driver, No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet
“We had a really strong weekend up until the second half of the race. We were heading for a top 10 finish until I got taken out. It’s a bummer we couldn’t get a positive result in our final race with Arrow McLaren SP but I think I showed the rest of the series what I can do. I want to thank the entire team for all the hard work they have put in this year and support they have given me.”
Taylor Kiel, Managing Director, Arrow McLaren SP
“What a great race and what a great way to end the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season. We are obviously very happy with today’s second place result for Pato and really happy with the way Oliver drove. He had some unfortunate contact that ended his chances for a promising result but he did a fantastic job today.
More importantly, both drivers have done a fantastic job all season long dealing with adversity, overcoming that adversity, and growing stronger because of it. All in all, I’m very proud of everyone at Arrow McLaren SP and I’m happy to close out 2020 on a high note. I’m excited to get started on 2021 tomorrow.”
Gil de Ferran, Sporting Director, McLaren Racing
“What a result! Another podium and fourth in the championship for Pato. Oliver was driving a brilliant and competitive race, with a realistic possibility of finishing in the top 5. Unfortunately, the yellow came exactly at the wrong time for his last pit stop and he got unlucky again when an incident put him in the tire wall. Nevertheless, it was a performance he should be proud of.
Pato’s race went more smoothly, the team executed strategy and pit stops very well. Pato, in his usual style, drove his heart out. His aggressiveness and determination were crucial at the end of the race to put himself in P2. We didn’t quite have enough to challenge the leader in the closing laps, but, again another stellar performance from Pato and the team.
We close this year on a high and once again, I would like to thank our team, partners and fans. Last, but not least, congratulations to Scott Dixon on a historical championship victory, to cement his name as one of the greats!
Well done Arrow McLaren SP…on to 2021, it starts tomorrow!”