Race Weekend Central

McLaren Teammates Pato O’Ward & Alexander Rossi Share Emotional Loss in Indy 500

SPEEDWAY, Ind. — A lot of the attention might’ve been on Kyle Larson in Sunday’s (May 26) Indianapolis 500, but it was the two full-time Arrow McLaren drivers who nearly left with the Borg-Warner trophy.

In the final laps of the race, Pato O’Ward and Alexander Rossi were very much in the thick of things. However, neither was able to capture the win.

O’Ward was leading with half a lap to go before Josef Newgarden passed him with an aggressive outside move heading into turn 3. The Monterrey, Mexico native was unable to catch back up to the Team Penske driver and finished a close second.

“Just so close again, so f**king close,” O’Ward told NBC Sports.

See also
Josef Newgarden Wins Indianapolis 500 for the Ages With Last-Lap Pass

As for Rossi, he took the lead from Newgarden with nine laps to go. But when Newgarden reclaimed the lead two laps later, O’Ward followed him by his teammate.

Rossi never recovered, eventually losing one more spot to Scott Dixon before settling on a fourth-place finish.

“I’m just trying to figure out how we got beat,” Rossi said. “Ultimately, we had the track position and just were one or two laps short on fuel, so that was the disappointing part.”

That setback paled in comparison to Rossi’s teammate, O’Ward forced to swallow his second runner-up finish in three years.

Over the final seven laps, O’Ward and Newgarden swapped the lead back and forth a few times. However, when O’Ward passed Newgarden while taking the white flag lap, it seemed like the Indy 500 was his.

Turns out he was sadly mistaken. Newgarden caught right back up to O’Ward in the next two corners and passed the Arrow McLaren driver in turn 3, where few passes had been made on the day. O’Ward ran out of time to respond and fell short in another oh-so-close Indy 500 attempt.

“I put that car through things I never thought it would be able to do,” O’Ward said. “I thought sometimes, ‘That’s it,’ and somehow I came out the other side of the corner. It’s just so painful when you put so much into it and then [wind up] two corners short.”

O’Ward was in a similar situation last year, but when he took an inside run to try to pass Marcus Ericsson, it resulted in the Arrow McLaren driver pounding the wall and winding up out of the race.

See also
Kyle Larson Gets 18th in 1st, but Maybe Not Final, Indy 500

It felt like Lady Luck might throw O’Ward a bone.

Instead?

She doubled down on causing misery.

“[The track] owes me nothing,” O’Ward claimed. “I’d obviously much rather finish the race compared to last year, but it’s always a heartbreak whenever you’re so close. Especially when it’s not the first time, and you don’t know how many opportunities you have.”

O’Ward, a fan favorite, said he could hear the crowd at IMS going wild for him the last couple laps.

“I did, I heard it.” O’Ward said. “… And I love them [the fans]. They’ve really made Indianapolis a home for me.”

He was in tears when he got out the car, spending lengths of time hugging members of the team, including former Indy 500 winner and current Arrow McLaren driver coach Tony Kanaan. After his media obligations, Rossi found O’Ward and the two of them had a long, emotion-filled embrace.

“It’s an amazing group,” Rossi said. “Pato and I were doing everything we could to work together to try to get Arrow McLaren in victory lane.

“He gave it his all. I was cheering for him at the end, knowing I couldn’t get there.

“Just wasn’t meant to be this year.”

Follow Michael Massie on X @m_massie22

About the author

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Michael Massie joined Frontstretch in 2017 and has served as the Content Director since 2020. Massie, a Richmond, Va., native, has covered NASCAR, IndyCar, SRX and the CARS Tour. Outside of motorsports, the Virginia Tech grad and Green Bay Packers minority owner can be seen cheering on his beloved Hokies and Packers.

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Pete

Alexander was short on fuel and had to back off to finish. Did Newgarden use push- to-pass?

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