Pato O’Ward’s rivals want to know how the driver of the No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevy was able to fire past them in the closing laps and run away to a gaudy 6.7s victory over three tours of Detroit’s Belle Isle street circuit.
It wasn’t just that O’Ward tore through the field—he’s made a name by executing pass after thrilling pass—but rather, how easily he found speed and grip when others in the lead group were forced to treat the brake and throttle pedals with mild contempt on restarts.
If charging from a starting position of P16 to the lead on Lap 68 of 70 wasn’t enough of a statement by O’Ward and the engineering talent contained within AMSP, his ability to disappear over those final three laps and build a staggering margin over Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden is where the Mexican’s adversaries would like to have some answers.
“We need to see why Pato was like four seconds a lap faster on those restarts,” said Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou, who was passed by the 22-year-old in the closing laps and finished P3.
“We could definitely find some stuff to make the car a little better on restarts, but whatever Pato and the [AMSP] guys have is really good, so we need to work up towards that,” said Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta who, like Newgarden and Palou, had no answer for O’Ward.
Graham Rahal was an early victim of O’Ward’s outrageous speed in Round 2’s closing stanza. Add the Rahal Letterman Lanigan driver to the growing list of curious and envious contenders.
“I don’t know…Pato did a wonderful job, but the [AMSP] cars always on restarts, [are] so fast,” he said after finishing P5. “We just have to figure out how they generate tire temperature when the rest of us seem to not. It is a massive difference, as everybody can see.”
So what’s the answer? Like AMSP would tell them…