For drivers Pato O’Ward and Oliver Askew, the Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolets must have felt like rocket ships tonight, as both drivers found their way into the Top 5 for Race One at Iowa Speedway. Askew, a rookie, secured the first podium of his NTT INDYCAR SERIES career in third, and his teammate, O’Ward, was right behind him in fourth.
The Iowa 250s race weekend, the second doubleheader for INDYCAR in as many weeks, started out with an hour-long practice session in the heat of the afternoon sun. Both AMSP drivers got an extra half hour of practice, with it being their first INDYCAR race at Iowa Speedway. The duo spent the practice getting used to the track and finding the cars they wanted for the first short oval race of the season. Askew fnished the session in 12th and O’Ward in 15th.
Moving on to qualifying, Askew faced the challenge of being one of the first cars out, being just the fourth car based on championship points. The young driver had a decent run and managed to qualify 14th. O’Ward, sitting tied for third in the championship, went out for his run much later in the session and was able to secure the eighth starting spot for the race.
The race got off to relatively un-eventful start, with both drivers settling in and finding their rythm. The fun began after the first pit sequence, as both drivers began gaining on the field and both cars were quickily in the Top 5. A yellow late in the race found Askew and O’Ward 1-2 but after the yellow was extended by a scary wreck, it was clear both drivers would have to stop soon after the restart.
Following the final green flag, both drivers made their stops relatively early and then went to work. The No. 5 and No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP cars carved through the field, eventually unlapping themselves and setting their sights on the podium. In just the last few laps, O’Ward was able to make up three spots and finish fourth while his teammate was securely ahead of him in third at the checkered flag. The team gained a total of fifteen spots on the day, making for an excited race for the media, partners, and fans.
The entire team gets another shot at the top step tomorrow with Race Two of the Iowa doubleheader. Make sure to tune in on NBCSN at 9:00 p.m. ET.
Pato O’Ward – No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet
- Practice: 15th
- Qualifying: 8th
- Started: 8th
- Finished: 4th
“Arrow McLaren SP and Team Chevy gave Oliver and I great cars tonight. We could really fight in a pack out there on track. It was a fantastic team result, but we are going to keep pushing. We have the pace for both of us to be on the podium tomorrow. So I think we just have to execute, no mistakes and I think we will be right there tomorrow. I’m looking forward to it. Having a race under our belt at Iowa Speedway will be a huge help. Let’s go get it.”
Oliver Askew – No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet
- Practice: 12th
- Qualifying: 14th
- Started: 14th
- Finished: 3rd
“I wish everyone could see my smile right now. The No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet just absolutely came alive when the track became cooler. We were good on new tires and when they were used. If that yellow didn’t come out there near the race end, I think we would have had a shot at least 1-2 there. We will go again tomorrow and I’m sure I’ll sleep well tonight. That’s probably one of the hardest races I’ve done in my life. Big hats off to everyone at Arrow McLaren SP. Awesome night.”
“It feels good to put it all together as a group. We’ve had one car do well and another not so well, so today was nice to get both cars to run at the front all night long. We are really encouraged by the pace, but even more encouraged by Pato and Oliver’s driving. They look like veterans out there. And we are proud of the engineering group for bringing cars to the racetrack that we can compete with every weekend. All-in-all, excellent night for Arrow McLaren SP and something to build on tomorrow. Obviously, we need to do it again and we plan to.”