AMSP goes from potential 1-2 to neither driver in the top 5, a look at their tough day in Indy

INDIANAPOLIS — Pato O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist both scored Firestone Fast Six appearances on Friday. The question always was, could they turn those good starting spots into potential podiums?

We know they can qualify well. That’s not in question. Could the finish well was.

Felix Rosenqvist had 3 straight top 6 qualifying efforts on the season. He’s just had no top 10’s all year either. Pato O’Ward qualified on the pole here last year but faded to 5th. In 6 starts around the 2.439-mile road course, he’s never had a podium. Is this the year?

It started off that way. Despite starting 5th, O’Ward crossed the Yard of Bricks 1st on Lap 1 in Saturday’s GMR Grand Prix. Rosenqvist was charging hard too. They were even 1-2 and looking like legitimate threats to win at Indy.

Then all chaos broke loose. While they each had potential, it all halted with O’Ward on the wrong strategy on slicks in the end and Rosenqvist coming from behind.

Rosenqvist, rebounded to still finish 6th for his 1st top 10 result of the season.

“That race had so many swings. We had a perfect race at the beginning,” Rosenqvist said. “We went one lap longer than Herta and Pato, so we were in the best fuel and tire situation. Everything looked really good but then on the restart, there was contact in front of me and I couldn’t avoid it. Pato was able to keep going but I stalled. Then we were a lap behind but we were able to get that back. Finally, on the last stint, we nailed the tire choice and we went from 18th to 6th in the course of about ten laps. That was great. Overall, a solid day and great effort by everyone at Arrow McLaren SP.”

O’Ward’s say was ruined with the strategy as he finished 17th. He said this was arguably one of the wildest races of his career.

“Today was probably the craziest race I have raced in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES,” he says. “I feel like the team deserved so much more today. I really, really do. Nobody was quicker than us with rain tires and we were really strong in the dry as well. We put ourselves in a position to challenge for the win after spinning but we made a gamble and didn’t make the right tire choice. Mother nature brought more rain and made it impossible to drive on slick tires. That’s how racing goes sometimes. It was a fun and entertaining race but the outcome was disappointing.”

Taylor Kiel said the day was as frustrating inside of the team as it looked from the outside. O’Ward lost over 30 points in the standings and went from 5th to 10th in the standings in 1 race.

“Today was frustrating. It was a tough race,” Kiel said. “There were a lot of decisions to be made throughout the race, with changing track conditions and choosing between the tires, so there was a lot of variables to balance. With Pato, we felt like red tires might be the tire to close the race out with when the rain stabilized but unfortunately we remained yellow for a long time and the track got saturated with water. The gamble didn’t pay off there. 

“Felix had a great recovery, after contact in the middle of the race, to finish in sixth. That’s a great result for him. Juan was running inside the top ten and it just got away from him at the end in the wet conditions.  “It was one of those days where we felt like we had really strong cars and an opportunity to win, and we didn’t. We will go back to the drawing board, understand what went wrong, and we will learn. You either win here, or you learn. Now it’s time to focus on preparation for the Indianapolis 500.”

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