O’Ward Ready to Fight for the Championship

Photo: Chris Owens, Indycar

Pato O’Ward left no doubt about his plans for the 2021 Indycar season.

“We want to win races. We want to be consistently fighting for podiums, and we want to be there. We want to be contenders every single race weekend.I think in doing so, that’ll put us in a position at the end of the year to fight for the championship. That is the goal. I want to get to Long Beach having a possibility to win the championship,” The Arrow McLaren SP second year driver said on Indycar Content Day yesterday.

O’Ward finished fourth in the season standings in 2020, winning his first career pole at road America. While he has yet to win a race, that will happen this coming season. I have a feeling he will stand on the top step of the podium more than once this year.

O’Ward spent time in the off-season watching his races from 2020, focusing on the races he felt he should have won. His goal this year is to qualify better and to minimize pit errors, which hurt him in a couple of races last season. O’Ward told the media,

“Man, I rewatched every race where we were in contention, both Iowa races, both Gateway races,Road America. Just from things that I learned last year,you qualify up front, you make your life so much easier.Another thing is that pit stops are huge in INDYCAR racing. I lost a lot of my race wins because we didn’t execute in the pits, and that’s huge. I feel like our pace was very, very strong. I think we were very strong in many places that we went to all year.But where we need to push this year, and we may need to make sure if we have a mistake it has to be minimized, is in the pits, and me as a driver just do my job.”

Motivation has never been an issue for O’Ward, but he seems even more determined to succeed this upcoming season.He feels that he and his team are ready to mix it up with the big three of Penske, Ganassi, and Andretti. He does acknowledge it’s a tall order.

“I feel like last year we left a lot of unfinished business. We were close to winning four races, and we didn’t get it done. We didn’t get it done. There were tough pills to swallow,and I felt like that left everyone in the team so hungry. I can see it from the off-season, just how much work has been put into the development of trying to make the cars go faster at the speedway and road courses.Me as a driver, I truly don’t think I’ve ever been fitter, more ready to try and win the thing. I have lots of faith in the team. I have lots of faith in what we can accomplish as a group. It’s going to be ridiculously hard, but it is possible.”

The addition of Juan Pablo Montoya for the Indianapolis 500 should help him as a driver and the team overall, O’Ward believes. He also thinks having gone through a complete Indycar season as ateam and knowing what to expect, will improve their chances of success.

“I think having a year under our belts and the engineers knowing what I like and how I go about things, I think that just helps everyone work better and more efficient. I have lots of faith that all those small guys behind the computer doing all the analysis and the developments of either it can be a road course, street course, superspeedway for drag,aero, whatever it may be, I feel like in this off-season they had a direction and they had more of a clear picture of where they had to work, to work at or see where there was massive improvements to be made.”

The Indianapolis 500 is where O’Ward really wants to improve. Last year the superspeedways were “like driving into a black hole,” he said. He believes the team, with Monotya’s help, will be stronger at the brickyard in 2021.

I am putting O’Ward on my list of title contenders. This is the first of a series on each of the drivers I think has a shot at the Astor Cup in 2021.

O’Ward Leads Laguna Seca Test; Grosjean 3rd Fastest

Photo: Chris Owens, Indycar

Pato O’Ward had the quickest time in Monday’s test at Weather Tech Raceway Monday. The private test The private test session included seven drivers from four teams. It was the first test day in an Indycar for Juan Pablo Montoya, who will drive for Arrow McLaren SP in the Indianapolis 500.

Montoya will be in car number 86 at Indianapolis. The number is a tribute to Peter Revson’s 1971 500 pole winning McLaren.

Romain Grosjean, who recently signed with Dale Coyne Racing with RWR, was third fastest on the day. Grosjean said in an earlier interview that this track was the one he was most looking forward to driving. he had Laguna Seca on a video game when he was younger.

Helio Castroneves also partticipated in the test for Meyer Shank Racing. Castroneves will drive in six races, including the 500, for Meyer Shank Racing.

Indycar’s next official test will at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway April 8-9 for all entries in the Indianapolis 500. There is no word yet if this test will be open for public viewing.

Results:

RANKCAR NO.DRIVERTEAMENGINEFAST LAPDIFF.TOTAL LAPS
15Pato O’WardArrow McLaren SPChevrolet71.293 83
218Ed JonesDale Coyne Racing With Vasser-SullivanHonda71.529-0.236104
351Romain GrosjeanDale Coyne Racing w/Rick Ware RacingHonda71.571-0.278109
67Felix RosenqvistArrow McLaren SPChevrolet71.600-0.30792
560Jack HarveyMeyer-Shank RacingHonda71.688-0.39581
421Rinus VeeKayEd Carpenter RacingChevrolet71.797-0.504104
886Juan MontoyaArrow McLaren SPChevrolet72.219-0.92675
706Helio CastronevesMeyer-Shank RacingHonda72.812-1.51991

Arrow McLaren SP Sports a Different Look for 2021

All photos from Arrow McLaren SP

Arrow McLaren SP revealed their liveris for the number 5 car of Pato O’Ward and the number 7 car of Felix Rosenqvist today. The cars have a bit of a different look and are not similar as they were last year. In 2020 Oliver Askew’s number 7 had blue end plates and the cars were at times difficult to distinguish.

The team presented the cars in a You Tube video this morning on their social media channels.

Rosenqvist (L) and O’Ward (R) comparison. Slide the arrow for a full view of each car.



The numbers on the roll hoop appear a bit sharper on the 2021 car. Last year the numbers were a hard to see at times. I’m glad they kept the abstract look of the digits.

Juan Pablo Montoya will join the team for 105th running of the Indianapolis 500. His car number, sponsor, and livery will be announced closer to May.

O’Ward Fastest in Sebring Test

Pato O’Ward had the fastest time in yesterday’s Indycar test at Sebring, topping 13 other cars in his Arrow McLaren SP machine. Other teams testing included Team Penske, Andretti Autosport, Rahal Letterman Lanigan, and Ed Carpenter Racing.

O’Ward and Alexander Rossi were the only two cars to post laps under 52 seconds.

New Liveries

While the Arrow McLaren cars used their testing camo livery, the cars of Scott McLaughlin and Alexander Rossi unveiled new paint schemes for 2021. Will Power also had a variation os last year’s scheme on the 12.

Rossi. Photo by Chris Owens, Indycar
McLaughlin. Photo by Chris Owens, Indycar
Power. Photo by Chris Owens, Indycar

The times

RANKCAR NO.DRIVERTEAMENGINEQUICK LAPDIFFERENCETOTAL LAPS
15Pato O’WardArrow McLaren SPChevrolet51.790 124
227Alexander RossiAndretti AutosportHonda51.928-0.138122
32Josef NewgardenTeam PenskeChevrolet52.055-0.265138
426Colton HertaAndretti AutosportHonda52.061-0.271116
529Oliver AskewAndretti AutosportHonda52.240-0.450109
67Felix RosenqvistArrow McLaren SPChevrolet52.258-0.46891
739Takuma SatoRahal Letterman Lanigan RacingHonda52.302-0.512139
820Conor DalyEd Carpenter RacingChevrolet52.311-0.521123
915Graham RahalRahal Letterman Lanigan RacingHonda52.356-0.566157
1021Rinus VeeKayEd Carpenter RacingChevrolet52.358-0.56899
1112Will PowerTeam PenskeChevrolet52.362-0.572145
1222Simon PagenaudTeam PenskeChevrolet52.378-0.588120
1328Ryan Hunter-ReayAndretti AutosportHonda52.464-0.674106
143Scott McLaughlinTeam PenskeChevrolet52.469-0.679130

Montoya Returns to the 500; Hoosier 100 Gets Another Reprieve

Two time Indianapolis 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya will once again drive in the Indianapolis 500, this time with Arrow McLaren SP. Montoya will pilot a third car for the team, alongside reglkar drivers Pato O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist.

Montoya spent the last three season driving for Team Penske Acura in the Weather Tech Championship Series, winning the championship in 2019. He also has won a CART title. Montoya has driven just about everything. He will drive next season for Dragonspeed in the WEC. Monotya has also .won races in Formula 1 and NASCAR.

With Montoya’s entry into the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500, the field has the potential to include eight former winners. Montoya’s former Penske teammate, three time winner Helio Castroneves, will be driving for Meyer Shank Racing. May 30 will be the first time the pair will be driving on different teams.

Hoosier Hundred Gets Another Chance

The Hoosier Hundred returns to the USAC Silver Crown Schedule at the Indiana State Fairgrounds May 27. 2019 was expected to be the final running of the 65 year old race. The track was schedule to be resurfaced for the sole use of the trotting and pacing horses which normally run during the Indiana State Fair. The COVID pandemic has prevented the track work from being done. The longer the work is delayed is more time to convince the fair board to keep this race.

The night following the Hoosier Hundred is the Carb Night Classic at Lucas Oil Raceway/ The schedule also includes the Silver Crown’s first visit to Winchester Speedway.

The full schedule:

Gift Ideas

My friend Johanna, (@writebend) has compiled a list of some small businesses that sell racing related items. These businesses have had a difficult year and could use any support you can give. Here is the link to her post:

https://write-bend.blogspot.com/2020/11/supporting-motorsport-related-companies.html?m=1

Rosenqvist to AMSP is Official; Dragonspeed Closes Indycar Program

Arrow McLaren SP officially confirmed felix rosenqvist as driver the number 7 car for 2021. The Swedish driver completed his second year in the Indycar series with Chip ganhassi racing. Rosenqvist finished 11th in the season standings and got his first Indycar win at Road America in race 2.

The announcement from the team:

Felix Rosenqvist joins Arrow McLaren SP for 2021

Felix Rosenqvist will join Arrow McLaren SP for the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season, the team confirmed today, piloting the No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet. Rosenqvist will get his first run in the car and begin duties with the team during an upcoming test at Barber Motorsports Park on November 2nd.

“I can’t wait to take the next step in my career and join Arrow McLaren SP. The team has shown itself to be a consistent challenger this year and I’m looking forward to working with Pato to help take it forward,” said Rosenqvist. “I want to thank Sam, Ric, Zak, and the entire team for giving me this opportunity and I’m already working to be as prepared as possible for next season. It’s going to be fun.”

Rosenqvist, a 28-year-old from Sweden with a diverse motorsport background, will start his third season in the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES, with his career accomplishments already including eight top five finishes and a win at Road America this year.

“We’ve been watching Felix since he came over to Indy Lights in 2016 and have been constantly impressed by his performance over the past two years,” said Arrow McLaren SP co-owner Sam Schmidt. “We think that he and Pato complement each other well and together we believe they will help us on our journey forward as a team.”

“It’s not very often that you get the opportunity to combine two young, established talents like Pato and Felix,” said McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown. “I think this pairing gives us a strong driver lineup and I’m excited to see what they can do together on and off the track.”

Rosenqvist will team up with Arrow McLaren SP driver Pato O’Ward, who finished his first full season in fourth place and looks forward to combining efforts with his former on-track rival.

“I am looking forward to working alongside Felix. He is a driver I truly respect, in and out of the car, and I’m sure we will work well together,” said O’Ward. “I think we can learn a lot from each other to develop the strongest package possible at every race weekend together with the team.”

Follow along with the team on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube at @ArrowMcLarenSP.

Dragonspeed Closure Benefits Meyer Shank Racing

Dragonspeed has closed the doors on its Indycar program. The team debuted at St. Petersburg in 2019 with Ben Hanley. Dragonspeed appeared in the Indianapolis 500 the last two years, finishing 23rd in August.

Team owner Elton Julian cited COVID as a factor in the decision to focus on their sports car program. Julian said the pandemic set his team back two years.

Dragonspeed sold its Dallara chassis to Meyer Shank Racing. The move accelerates MSR’s plan to field a second car in the Indycar series. The plan is to build the schedule gradually as they ddi with Jack Harvey’s now full time entry.

It’s sad to see a team leave the series, but the silver lining could be Meyer Shank adding another entry to the grid.

IMS Test Postponed to Friday

The scheduled Thursday Indycar test has been postponed to tomorrow, Friday, October 3,0 due to inclement weather. Trust me, it’s not clement. Fans are welcome to watch from the turn 2 mounds.

Enter at gate 2, where you will indergo a temperature screening. Facial coverings are required at all times and no food or drink is allowed on the mounds.

Scheduled to participate in the test are Scott Dixon, Takuma Sato, Josef Newgarden, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Ed Carpenter, and Pato O’Ward.

Newgarden and Sato tested Wednesday as the series experimented with some nose pieces.to create more front downforce and improve passing ability.

Yesterday Scott McLaughlin completed his Speedway Rookie Orientation Program.

Rosenqvist Move to AMSP Leaves Gap at Ganassi, Scrambles Silly Season

Photo- Felix Rosenqvist on his way to his first win at road America. Joe Skibinski, Indycar

Arrow McLaren SP continues to dominate the 2021 driver lineup. Their third announcement this week blew the lid off the simmering kettle of Indycar Silly season. Felix Rosenqvist wil move from Chip Ganassi Racing to the second year team to drive the number 7 car vacated two days ago by Oliver Askew. Askew will drive for the team in the season finale at St. Pete if he is medically cleared to drive. Rosenqvist will complete his contract with Ganassi at that time as well.

Rosenqvist celebrates his first Indycar victory at Road America in July. Jos Skibinski, Indycar

Chip Ganassi Racing has an agreement with 7 time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson to run the road course portion of the 2021 schedule. Before the Rosenqvist announcement, ti was assumed that Johnson would be in a fourth Ganassi car. Does he now move to the 10? If so, who drives the car at the four oval races next year?

Helio Castroneves was thought to be a strong candidate for a third car at AMSP. Is that still an option? Will Castroneves now go to Ganassi? I can’t see him being willing to run an oval only program. Tony Kanaan is a possibility for the oval portion of the Johnson ride.

Both AMSP and Ganassi looked as if they would each expand by one car for 2021. That possibility is now in question. Two more cars on the grid would leave more room for drivers looking for work.

Meanwhile, team Penske is expected to run four cars next year with the addition of Scott McLaughlin, who will make his debut at St. Pete.

Andretti Autosport, which ran five cars this season, has only Alexander Rossi and Colton Herta locked in for 2021. Will veteran Ryan Hunter-Reay retire or became an Indy only driver?

Other drivers with uncertain status for next year are Conor Daly, Rinus Veekay, James Hinchcliffe, Charlie Kimball, and Dalton Kellett.

The 2021 lineup, which just a couple of weeks ago appeared to have some minor tweaks plus the possibility of a larger grid, now looks like there may be some major shuffling.

O’Ward Stays with Arrow McLaren SP for 2021

Photo: pato O’Ward at World Wide technology Raceway. James Black, Indycar

A day after Arrow Mclaren SP announced that Oliver Askew would not return to the team next season, the team today announced that Pato O’Ward will return for the 2021 NTT Indycar Series season. O’Ward has one pole and a second place finish this year and is currently 5th in the points standings.

The official announcement from the the team:

Pato O’Ward to continue with Arrow McLaren SP in 2021

October 13, 2020

Arrow McLaren SP announced today that Pato O’Ward will continue to race for the team for the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season, once again piloting the No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet. 

“I am beyond excited to be racing with Arrow McLaren SP next season to build on what we have accomplished so far this year. Such a great group of people who truly have welcomed me like a second family,” said O’Ward. “Given how much change I have seen in my career to this point, it is invaluable to get the opportunity to put down roots and build on a foundation year over year.” 

O’Ward will continue with the team after a strong showing in his first full season in INDYCAR, currently sitting fifth in the championship standings with one race remaining. The Mexican driver, who is still only 21-years-old, will once again be behind the wheel of the No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet in 2021, which he has raced to one pole position, three podiums and nine top 10 finishes in 2020. 

“The entire team and I are thrilled to have Pato back in the car next year,” said Arrow McLaren SP co-owner Sam Schmidt. “He has shown incredible form this year and has kept himself in the championship hunt all season long. I think he has the potential to compete at the highest level in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES for a long time.”

Arrow McLaren SP’s 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES full driver lineup will be announced in due course. 

The team has one race remaining in the 2020 season, the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on October 25. Tune in on NBC at 2:30 p.m. ET and follow along on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Youtube at @ArrowMcLarenSP. 

Askew Leaving Arrow McLaren SP at End of Season

Photo: Oliver Askew from Arrow McLaren SP twitter account

In a release this afternoon Arrow McLaren SP announced that rookie driver Oliver Askew will leave the team at the end of the 2020 season. Askew has not driven for the team since the doubleheader at Mid Ohio, where he placed 19th in race 1 and 15th in race 2. Following the race Askew complained of dizziness. It is believed the issue began after his crash in the Indianapolis 500 August 23.

From the news release:

“It’s been a steep learning curve this year but I appreciate all of the experience I have gotten with Arrow McLaren SP. I’ve certainly had to develop very quickly as a driver and I know I have shown my speed and capability when able to this season. However, I think it makes sense to pursue the next chapter of my career outside the team,” said Askew. “I am grateful for all the support I’ve received from my crew, the team and all the fans. I wish the entire team well in the future.”

Askew at Mid Ohio. Indycar photo by Matt Fraver

Askew did not participate in the Harvest Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway October 2 and 3. Helio Castroneves drove the 7 car in those races. Castroneves has been pursuing a full time Indycar ride for 2021, and this opens a spot for him The team had been talking about a potential third car for next season as well.

Askew’s best finishes this year were third at Iowa in Race 1 and a sixth at Iowa in Race 2.

If Askew is cleared to drive by the Indycar medical team, he will drive for Arrow McLaren SP in the season finale, the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, on October 25.