Normally when you start from the pole and finish fifth, you’d be considerably disappointed, but Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward felt like it was something to celebrate — albeit for the wrong reasons.
Most of that was because, although it was a less than desirable outcome for O’Ward, he progessed to second in the NTT IndyCar Series championship standings and closed to within 21 points of leader Alex Palou, who suffered an engine failure in the closing laps of the Big Machine Spike Coolers Grand Prix.
“I consider us very lucky today, honestly,” O’Ward told NBC Sports. “We obviously went backwards from where we started, but I think that the big positive today is that, very unfortunate for Alex (Palou) — I think his engine blew — that gave us a massive jump into the standings. We’re now 21 points behind back in second. I think this is the start of the momentum that we wanted. I think Gateway next weekend is going to be great for us.”
Although held the lead for the opening 15 laps after starting on the alternate red tires, O’Ward was unable to defend after his first pit stop, losing the lead to Will Power and then second place to Colton Herta soon afterward. Despite hanging tough for a podium spot, he was eventually displaced by the surging duo of Romain Grosjean and Alexander Rossi before collecting that “lucky” fifth.
“Yeah man, just today we didn’t have it,” he declared. “I’m glad we didn’t finish on the podium because I don’t think we deserve it, really. Because we just didn’t have the pace. Everyone in front of us was better than us and man, it’s just tough to drive your ass off for a fifth, especially when you start up front. You want to stay there when you start there.”