2021 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg – Race Report
Streets of St. Petersburg
Date: Sunday, April 25
Round: 2 of 17
Race Laps: 100
Total Race Distance: 180 miles/289.68 km
Track Length: 1.8 miles/2.89km
Number of turns: 14
After a strong qualifying in the No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet, Pato O’Ward started the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in sixth. The team chose to start the race on the black tires but Pato quickly lost ground on the first lap to drivers on the softer red tires. Pato then settled into the pace, looking to gain ground on strategy and in the pits.
Felix Rosenqvist and the No. 7 Vuse Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet took an alternate strategy, diving into the pits early in their stint, planning to take three stops instead of two. The strategy looked like it may show promise, until a yellow flag mid-race evened out the playing field and put everyone back on a similar plan.
Felix was able to steadily gain ground, eventually finishing the race five spots up in 12th.
Pato continued to struggle to gain comfort in the car and flat spots on the tires forced him to take an extra stop late in the race. This left him charging hard but with too much ground to make up and he finished 19th.
Arrow McLaren SP moves on to Texas Motor Speedway next weekend, where the team will contest two races on the 1.5 mile, high-banked oval. Tune in to NBCSN at 7:00 p.m. ET on Saturday, May 1 for Race One and 5:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, May 2 for Race Two.
Felix, Driver, No. 7 Vuse Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet
Starting Position: 17th
“We just finished a long race at St. Pete. It was okay but not anything fantastic. I made a little step forward with the car but still have to do more to compete at the front. We were able to follow the field but really couldn’t move forward. The field was so tight that if you didn’t have that little extra, it was hard to move forward. It was good to finish the race, get some points, and move on to Texas where I think we should be able to get good points in those two races for Arrow McLaren SP.”
Pato O’Ward, Driver, No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet
Starting Position: 6th
“It was a tough day here in St. Petersburg. I don’t know how to describe it. However, we will switch gears and look forward to Texas. It’s a doubleheader and a lot of points will be up for grabs. So the entire Arrow McLaren SP team will be looking to redeem ourselves.”
Taylor Kiel, President, Arrow McLaren SP
“It was a really tough day. First of all, we’re proud of Felix for battling. He struggled a bit this weekend and last trying to find the feeling he is looking for. I think the group did a good job of rallying around him and trying to give him something that he likes, and we saw progress today. We saw his ability to move up the field in what was a very tough situation with the fuel save numbers that everyone was trying to achieve, so that was good on him.
Certainly, on the No. 5 side, it was a very disappointing day. I think it really started on Lap 1. It was a difficult first lap and from there on out it was difficult to do anything with the pace of the race. Everybody was in a very big fuel save. It was kind of a follow the leader situation which is always difficult, you have to just stay patient and try to make it to the end of these stints. It’s very hard thing to do. You see some of the other guys like Dixon and Newgarden, certainly Herta, who were able to make it work.
We’ve got work to do internally to put ourselves in a better position. It was a tough day but we’re going to take the positives out of it, address the learnings and we’ll be better for it. We’ll go to Texas and put our best foot forward and maximize points.”