Running an NTT IndyCar Series team is hard enough on its own and leading the championship certainly doesn’t make things any easier for Arrow McLaren SP president Taylor Kiel, who also serves as Pato O’Ward’s race strategist.
So with a title to try and win with the young Mexican and three races to get it done, Kiel has another layer of pressure to deal with as he and his wife, IndyCar broadcaster Katie Kiel, are on baby watch while he’s half a country away from their Indiana home.
Somewhere between trying to vault O’Ward from his seventh-place qualifying position for the Portland Grand Prix and attempting to stay connected to his wife in Indianapolis with her delivery date just days away, Kiel is a man with plenty of professional and marital weight on his shoulders.
“We’re trying to take it day by day, but certainly, everything’s been going very well from the team side, everything has been going well from the personal side and Katie’s pregnancy,” Kiel told RACER. “So that’s made things a lot easier, but ultimately, she and I had a lot of discussions about this early on and on how we balance our priorities and those types of things.
“I’m a firm believer and we preach it within our team that it’s always Family First, work comes second to family. So I’ve tried to spend as much time at home as I can, because that’s, that’s what’s really important, but, you know, not too far behind is trying to win this championship and trying to be here for my team and doing the things that we need to do the close this championship out right. So it’s been a balancing act, but so far, so good.”
Kiel’s ready to take his position on the No. 5 AMSP timing stand today and help O’Ward to succeed to the best of their ability. And he’s also ready to sprint away from the track and head for the airport if their first child decides it’s time for an alternate pit strategy by arriving sooner than expected.
“All those contingencies are in place, and we’ll make sure there’s plenty A, B, C, and D scenarios headed into Laguna if that’s needed, but whatever happens, we’ve got it covered if I’m here or not,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of really good people here that can pick things up for me. Hopefully everything goes as planned, but if not, we’re ready to react.”