Race Weekend Central

After a Runner-up Finish at Indy, Pato O’Ward Qualifies a Strong 5th at Detroit

DETROIT— A week after finishing second at the 106th Indianapolis 500, Pato O’Ward qualified fifth for the final Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix on the streets of Belle Isle for the NTT IndyCar Series.

The No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet went around the 13-turn, 2.35 mile circuit in 1 minute, 16.3301 seconds, averaging 110.834 mph.

O’Ward’s path to the final round of qualifying started in the first group of the first round. Only 12 cars turned a lap in the session as Dalton Kellett’s No. 4 A. J. Foyt Racing Chevrolet did not make it to the track for qualifying after a significant crash in the Saturday (June 4) morning practice session.


The Mexican racer turned the second fastest lap in that group to advance to second round of qualifying. In the second round of qualifying, O’Ward turned the fastest lap of the weekend at 1 minute, 14.6681 seconds.

In the Firestone Fast 6, O’Ward’s team put on used Firestone red sidewall alternate tires. Those tires produce more grip but wear out faster, on O’Ward’s car wasn’t able to replicate the earlier run.

“I think we made the wrong call on what reds to take,” O’Ward told Frontstretch. “We saw just like last year, they (the red tires) went straight from getting to warmup into falling off a cliff so I think that’s going to be interesting tomorrow in terms of strategy and who starts on what. So yeah, from the looks of it, it’s probably going to be like the past year’s race where it’s going to be a black (tire)race.”

Last year, O’Ward started on pole position and finished third in the first of two races in the Detroit doubleheader weekend. In the second race last year, the 2018 Indy Lights champion started 16th but won with a daring late-race pass on Josef Newgarden, who won the pole for this year’s race. 

“I think for sure we’re in a way better position to realistically get a really solid result because starting [fifth], I don’t think you need to rely on a yellow but when you’re starting back [in 16th], you need a yellow to help you out.”

See also
Josef Newgarden Claims IndyCar Pole in Detroit

O’Ward is currently second in IndyCar points, 13 behind Indianapolis 500 race winner Marcus Ericsson. O’Ward tried passing Ericsson on the last lap and actually was ahead going into the first turn, but backed out of the throttle when he figured that the move wouldn’t work on the outside of the corner.

Though there was disappointment in finishing second, but O’Ward turned the page on that race right after it ended to look forward to Detroit.

Second at Indy: “It was one that stung, but we’re going to have our chance next year and hopefully the next decade or so,” O’Ward said. “I didn’t think risking my championship there was going to be the right call and I’m 100 percent agreeing with what I did and yeah, I think we’re in a great spot in the championship right now.”

O’Ward believed that if he were in a part-time seat like his teammate Juan Pablo Montoya, then he definitely would have kept his foot in it. However, risking over 80 points was not a good idea for the championship.

After Sunday’s (June 5) race, Belle Isle will cease to be used as a race track and the race venue will shift to a circuit in downtown Detroit using part of the old layout that hosted Formula 1 from 1982-1988 and IndyCar in the CART era from 1989-1991.

The 70-lap Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix airs live on USA Network with coverage starting at 3:00 p.m. ET with the green flag a half hour later.

Follow @CDeHarde

About the author

Christopher DeHarde has covered IndyCar racing and the Road to Indy for various outlets since 2014. In addition to open wheel racing, DeHarde has also covered IMSA and various short track racing events around Indiana. Originally from New Orleans, DeHarde moved to the Indianapolis area in 2017 to further pursue a career as a motorsports writer.

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