After spinning out in the opening moments of qualifying for the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Saturday, Pato O’Ward had his work cut out for him for Sunday’s race.
The 24-year-old Mexican was up to the task, charging from a 25th starting position to an eighth-place result in the 80-lap event. While he fell even further behind Alex Palou in the championship points race – he is now 127 points back of the Spaniard – O’Ward made the most of the day and leaves Central Ohio in fifth place and still in the hunt for the NTT IndyCar Series title.
“I drove the living piss out of that car,” O’Ward said. “It was fast, I was comfortable in it, and we were making moves pretty much as soon as we got to anybody. We just went through the field. There wasn’t one lap where we weren’t pushing to the absolute maximum.
“We maxed out what we got from 25th. We fought hard for it.”
O’Ward’s Arrow McLaren machine was fast off of the truck, as he paced the field in Friday’s first practice and was fourth-quick on Saturday morning. He was on top of the timing chart in his group in the first round of qualifying but found himself spinning into the grass in turn 13, which brought out a red flag.
Per the IndyCar rulebook, O’Ward lost his two fastest laps, and the team made the decision to sit out the rest of the session, which relegated him to start in the back of the field.
He wasn’t there long after the green flag on Sunday. O’Ward had made up 10 positions by lap 13 of the race and ran as high as third on lap 64 prior to making his final pit stop eight laps from the end.
In the end, O’Ward notched a total of 21 on-track passes and posted the second-quickest lap of the race with a 1:08.3748.
As a testament to the pace of his car, O’Ward was the only car in the top nine to make three pit stops, as everyone else made just two.
“If the yellows had fallen at the right time, we may have been in podium contention,” O’Ward said. “We didn’t have help from anybody. No [lapped cars], no yellows, nothing. We legit went through 17 cars, and lots of those were on track.”
Still, it left O’Ward wondering where they would’ve been if qualifying had gone a bit differently.
“What could it have been if we had we had started up front?” O’Ward pondered. “I think we could’ve given Palou a run for his money. I don’t think he was faster than us. We were pretty much on the same pace. Sadly, we started the race over 20 seconds behind.”
The NTT IndyCar Series is off next weekend then moves north of the border to Toronto, Canada, for the Honda Indy Toronto on July 16.
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