Arrow McLaren SP founder and co-owner Sam Schmidt likes the idea of expanding to three cars next season. Going up against the likes of four-car teams at Andretti Autosport, Chip Ganassi Racing, and Team Penske have added to the difficulty for AMSP as it pursues the NTT IndyCar Series championship with Pato O’Ward, and with more talent to displace its rivals, the concept certainly has its merits. It’s also the subject of an ongoing effort to make it a reality.
“We’re working on that while we’re working on trying to win the championship,” Schmidt told RACER.
Holding second in the championship, O’Ward has motored into title contention on the strength of two wins and a string of quality results while new teammate Felix Rosenqvist has weathered a rough debut with AMSP. The desired 1-2 punch sought from the duo by Schmidt, Ric Peterson, and McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown has yet to materialize, but with Rosenqvist expected to return from injury this weekend to pilot his No. 7 Chevy at Mid-Ohio, a chance exists to start anew over the final seven races.
“We’ve obviously seen good results this year, and it looks pretty solid that Felix could be back in Mid-Ohio, so we’ve got to get that car back on track, head down,” Schmidt continued. “But at the same time, I believe Zak was quoted saying that from a competitive level, due to limited testing and everything else, we’d love to have that third car, contributing fast and free, but it has to be fully funded.”
Thanks to O’Ward’s front-running performances, Schmidt says AMSP has seen a rise in the quality of drivers seeking to join the program.
“No doubt, and I think we’re doing better on both sides, whether it’s the commercial side with just the quality of the Arrow program and Club 5 (hospitality services) and the quality of the Vuse program and all their activation,” he said. “It’s all lifted quite a bit over the last year and a half, so I think quality across the board. The primary focus would be for us to be competitive with the other two entries right on the box, and that’s a that’s a tall order, but having a third isn’t out of the question.”
With a championship left to settle in the coming months, Schmidt is feeling bullish for Rosenqvist’s chances on returning to form and boosting O’Ward’s title bid. Although Schmidt will miss Mid-Ohio as he heads to the U.K. to take part in the Goodwood Festival and stay over to attend the British Grand Prix with McLaren, he’ll tune in from across the Atlantic this weekend and monitor the progress of both drivers.
“We think Felix can be a winner for us; he was definitely in a position to win at Detroit when the crash happened,” he said. “We know he has the car, we know he’s got the personality, so now we just need to get it to the finish line.”