O’Ward: Pole a result of hustling a car with perfect balance

Barber Motorsports Park pole-winner Pato O’Ward says that his second IndyCar P1 Award came as a result of wringing the potential from a faithful handling car.

O’Ward: Pole a result of hustling a car with perfect balance

The Arrow McLaren SP-Chevrolet driver beat Alexander Rossi’s Andretti Autosport-Honda to pole despite an imperfect build-up in practice. While he and race engineer Will Anderson found a great setup on Firestone’s primary tires [black sidewalls] they were left uncertain about the #5 car’s potential on the alternate compound, which teams are allowed to sample in second practice session.

“Practice one and two were really messy,” said O’Ward who finished fourth in last year’s championship. “It got really dicey there with the traffic and people being different laps into their sequence. We didn't quite get an idea of what real pace we had.

“But I knew exactly what I needed to go faster. Will [Anderson] my engineer put his magic to work. We had a really, really quick car on reds and we maintained our very good pace on blacks that we had in Practice 2.

“Usually whenever you feel the tires go, you’ve just got to send it and hope that it's going to hang on to you. By Q3, I knew what to expect [from the reds]. In Q1, I was like, ‘Well, we didn't really get to try them in Practice 2 because we had such a messy run. We didn't really get the peak out of it.’ I said, ‘Let's just ship it and see where it takes us.’

“We pulled out a great lap time. I think we were first in Q1, as well. We transferred and we didn't make much changes. I was really happy with the car. It was behaving well. I felt confident to attack corners. This is a car that has to get hustled if you want to start at the front. So that's what we did.”

Asked about his aggressive driving style, O’Ward smiled, remarking: “I definitely have heard from my engineer and just from other people… They tell me I don't have a problem going sideways. I think that's true. I like to hustle the car around. I think I'm very aggressive with input.

“But… you need a car that will give you the support in order to really attack the corners. That's honestly what we were looking for in qualifying. In Practice 2 we didn't quite get the right balance. We made a few changes. We hit the spot right on for qualifying, especially for reds.”

Regarding strategy for tomorrow, considering there appears to be a 0.8sec gap between the primary and alternate compounds – at least when they’re fresh – O’Ward said he remains uncertain.

“I think tire deg[radation] shouldn't be as big as it has been in the past,” he said, alluding to the resurfaced 2.38-mile course. “:There will for sure be some deg.

“It's going to be interesting tomorrow in warm-up, who runs on blacks and reds, and see the falloff. We don't know how much [the reds] might last. A stint around here is usually as short as 12 laps but as long as 25.

“I think tomorrow warm-up is going to be the key to trying to get the optimized strategy for the race, to see if it's going to be a ‘black race’ or a ‘red race’.

The 30min warm-up session starts at 10.30am local (Central) time, while the race gets the green flag at 2.40pm CT.

shares
comments

Related video

Grosjean “super happy” with P7 for IndyCar Series debut
Previous article

Grosjean “super happy” with P7 for IndyCar Series debut

Next article

Barber IndyCar: Rahal leads Grosjean in warm-up

Barber IndyCar: Rahal leads Grosjean in warm-up
Load comments
Ranking the top 10 IndyCar drivers of 2021 Prime

Ranking the top 10 IndyCar drivers of 2021

In an enthralling 2021 IndyCar campaign, the series bounced back from its COVID-19 truncated year prior and series sophomore Alex Palou defeated both the established order and his fellow young guns to clinch a maiden title. It capped a remarkable season with plenty of standout performers

IndyCar
Nov 22, 2021
How Marcus Ericsson finally unlocked his potential in IndyCar Prime

How Marcus Ericsson finally unlocked his potential in IndyCar

Marcus Ericsson enjoyed a breakout year in the IndyCar Series in 2021, winning twice and finishing sixth in points with Chip Ganassi Racing. How did he finally unlock the potential that was masked by five years of toil in Formula 1 with Caterham and Sauber/Alfa Romeo?

IndyCar
Nov 16, 2021
Remembering Dan Wheldon and his last and most amazing win Prime

Remembering Dan Wheldon and his last and most amazing win

Saturday, Oct. 16th, marks the 10th anniversary Dan Wheldon’s death. David Malsher-Lopez pays tribute, then asks Wheldon’s race engineer from 2011, Todd Malloy, to recall that magical second victory at the Indianapolis 500.

IndyCar
Oct 16, 2021
Have Harvey and RLL formed IndyCar’s next winning match-up? Prime

Have Harvey and RLL formed IndyCar’s next winning match-up?

Jack Harvey’s move to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing sparked plenty of debate, but their combined strength could prove golden, says David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Oct 15, 2021
Why Kyle Kirkwood is America's new IndyCar ace-in-waiting Prime

Why Kyle Kirkwood is America's new IndyCar ace-in-waiting

Kyle Kirkwood, the record-setting junior formula driver, sealed the Indy Lights championship last weekend. But despite an absurdly strong résumé and scholarship money, his next move is far from clear. By David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Oct 6, 2021
2021 IndyCar title is just the start for Ganassi's newest star Prime

2021 IndyCar title is just the start for Ganassi's newest star

Alex Palou has captured Chip Ganassi Racing's 14th IndyCar drivers' championship, and in truly stellar manner. David Malsher-Lopez explains what made the Palou-Ganassi combo so potent so soon.

IndyCar
Sep 28, 2021
Why Grosjean's oval commitment shows he's serious about IndyCar Prime

Why Grosjean's oval commitment shows he's serious about IndyCar

One of motorsport’s worst-kept secrets now out in the open, and Romain Grosjean has been confirmed as an Andretti Autosport IndyCar driver in 2022. It marks a remarkable turnaround after the abrupt end to his Formula 1 career, and is a firm indication of his commitment to challenge for the IndyCar Series title  

IndyCar
Sep 24, 2021
IndyCar’s longest silly-season is still at fever pitch Prime

IndyCar’s longest silly-season is still at fever pitch

The 2021 IndyCar silly season is one of the silliest of all, but it’s satisfying to see so many talented drivers in play – including Callum Ilott. David Malsher-Lopez reports.

IndyCar
Sep 11, 2021