Race Weekend Central

Long Beach Lobs Adversity at Arrow McLaren

LONG BEACH, Calif. — All of the major NTT IndyCar Series teams showed up to play in the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach on Sunday (April 21), except for Arrow McLaren.

Only one of the team’s three cars finished inside the top 10: Alexander Rossi in 10th. Granted, Theo Pourchaire finished right behind him in 11th in his IndyCar debut. Pato O’Ward brought it home in 16th.

But those finishing positions don’t tell the tale of how promising things looked for Arrow McLaren entering the weekend or how grim things seemed part of the way into the event.

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O’Ward was the fastest in Long Beach’s opening practice with Rossi in seventh. Meanwhile, Pourchaire was turning heads in every sessions with how quickly the Formula 2 champion was adapting. He had never been in an IndyCar prior to this weekend and was only in the No. 6 because David Malukas is still out with an injury.

When the race started, all optimism quickly disappeared. In the opening laps, there was a stack-up that led to O’Ward slamming into the back of Rossi.

Rossi had to pit on lap 3 as a result of the damage, while O’Ward was forced to serve a drive-through penalty. That relegated both drivers to the bottom of the running order.

O’Ward was apologetic toward Rossi after the race.

“Caught off guard with the stack-up on the start, and I take full reponsibility for destroying Alex’s race along with mine,” O’Ward posted on X (formerly Twitter). “Unacceptable from my side. I owe you all a beer.”

Frontstretch was unable to reach O’Ward or Rossi for comment on the incident.

That incident was not the end of the day for either driver though. They both climbed through the field as the race went on, with Rossi especially making a strong push in the closing laps, getting to 10th.

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Meanwhile, Pourchaire ran inside the top 10 early after staying out when most of the field pitted. The strategy he ended up on dropped him back into just inside the top 20 late in the going, but it gave him plenty of fuel and tires to go on the hunt.

As a result, Pourchaire was the biggest mover of the race after starting 22nd and finishing 11th.

“It’s awesome, and the car was amazing, strategy was good,” Pourchaire told Frontstretch. “Big thanks to my Arrow McLaren team for the crazy-good car. I’m so proud and really exhausted as well, but what a race.”

Leaving Long Beach, O’Ward and Rossi nicely sit sixth and ninth in points, respectfully. As for Pourchaire, the future is unknown. He told Frontstretch he would “most probably” travel with Arrow McLaren to the next race at Barber Motorsports Park and be ready in case Malukas is still not healthy.

But the 20-year-old wants to be back and soon.

“The racing is so good there [IndyCar],” Pourchaire said. “Really respectful guys on the track, really tough drivers to beat, but I enjoyed it a lot.

“I did some really good moves, and I hope to be back soon, because I had so much pleasure this weekend. I want to be back.”

About the author

Michael Massie is a writer for Frontstretch. Massie, a Richmond, Va. native, has been a NASCAR superfan since childhood, when he frequented races at Richmond International Raceway. Massie is a lover of short track racing and travels around to the ones in his region. Outside of motorsports, the Virginia Tech grad can be seen cheering on his beloved Hokies.

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