2021 GMR Grand Prix – Arrow McLaren SP Race Report

#5: Pato OíWard, Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet
Indianapolis Motor Speedway 
Date: Saturday, May 15 
Round: 5/17 
Race laps: 85 laps 
Total race distance: 207.32 miles/333.6 km 
Length: 2.439 miles/3.92 km 
Number of turns: 14 

The best weekends can tend to be followed by the toughest weekends in motorsport. After winning a thrilling race at Texas Motor Speedway less than two weeks ago, Arrow McLaren SP couldn’t find the same magic this weekend on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

The GMR Grand Prix weekend started with two practice sessions on Friday, followed by an evening of qualifying. Felix Rosenqvist had the strongest performance of the AMSP drivers in qualifying but narrowly missed out on advancing to the second round, qualifying the No. 7 Vuse Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet in 13th. His teammate, Pato O’Ward, was just a few spots behind in the session, finishing 18th. The newest AMSP driver, two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Juan Pablo Montoya, finished qualifying in 24th but was shuffled back to 25th after a penalty.

One day later, the race began with a Lap 1 incident, with multiple cars coming together in the 90-degree first turn. Pato was able to narrowly avoid the chaos but unfortunately had to take the runoff lane and came back onto the track in the back of the pack. The No. 5 crew took this opportunity to make an early pit stop during the yellow flag and he was able to make up some ground on the field in that stint, eventually moving as high as sixth. However, the alternate strategy didn’t quite pan out in the end, with the race going green the rest of the way and Pato eventually finished in 15th.

Felix was also able to keep it clean throughout the race but passing was at a premium on the 14-turn road course. The Swedish driver worked hard to make up ground during the race but eventually ended the day in 17th.

Juan Pablo, making his first INDYCAR start since 2017, spent the weekend working on getting in rhythm with both the No. 86 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet and the team in a race environment. Despite starting from the back of the field, he got more and more comfortable with the car on each stint. After settling into a groove for the second half of the race, he finished 21st.

All focus turns now to the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, the 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500. Practice begins next Tuesday, May 18th and the race goes green on NBC at 11:00 a.m. ET on May 30th.

Pato O’Ward – No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet
Starting Position: 18th 
Finishing Position: 15th
Championship: 4th, 146 points 

“We just finished the GMR Grand Prix here in Indianapolis and ended up P15. This weekend, not just for me but for all of Arrow McLaren SP, was not our best. We have to circle back, see what the team thinks went wrong, and what we need to do to come back stronger on the road courses. We were very strong on the super speedway in Texas, so we are looking forward to the Indy 500. That’s the crown jewel of the schedule and the one everyone wants to win. We are fully focused now and ready to hit the oval next week.”
Felix Rosenqvist – No. 7 Vuse Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet
Starting Position: 13th 
Finishing Position: 17th 
Championship: 18th, 71 points 

“We finished the GMR Grand Prix in 17th, tough race for the whole team and we didn’t really have the pace. I think when you don’t have pace, you don’t have the tools to go forward. So we need to work on some fundamental changes on that side. But this one is done, and we will work to do much better in the Indianapolis 500. Luckily, that is right around the corner so we will reload and aim high in that one.”

Juan Pablo Montoya – No. 86 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet
Starting Position: 25th
Finishing Position: 21st
Championship: 28th, 9 points 

“This weekend was a difficult weekend. At the end of the race, we actually felt that my car was getting pretty competitive and the pace was pretty good. We just started the race too far in the back. It is difficult because we did most of the practices on the black tires, and today was a day that you race on reds. My first laps on reds were supposed to be before qualifying in Practice 2 but I spun and flat spotted them. The day may have been long and difficult but I think as the day went on, we made some really good changes. The engineering and the strategy  team worked really well together. Arrow McLaren SP kept on top of everything that was going on and made the day much, much easier.”

Taylor Kiel – President, Arrow McLaren SP

“It was a tough day. It was tough for everybody. Certainly our team really struggled from the beginning of the weekend to find the pace. It’s very disappointing to have a weekend like that, obviously. The good thing is we’re back on track in a couple of days getting ready for the biggest race on our schedule. Not the performance we wanted and certainly not the way to back up a victory, but we have a chance here in the next week to make it right.”