CHEVROLET IN NTT INDYCAR SERIES
CHEVROLET GRAND PRIX OF DETROIT
TEAM CHEVY PRACTICE REPORT
JUNE 2, 2023
PATO O’WARD AND TEAM CHEVY TOPS FIRST CHEVROLET DETROIT GRAND PRIX PRACTICE ON TRICKY NEW TRACK
- Pato O’Ward, driver of the No. 5 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet, led first practice with his fastest lap on the streets of Detroit course at 1:03.0773.
- O’Ward’s teammates Felix Rosenqvist, driver of the No. 6 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet, and Alexander Rossi, driver of the No. 7 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet, joined O’Ward in the top-six of the session, finishing fifth and sixth respectively.
- Callum Ilott, driver of the No. 77 Juncos Hollinger Racing Chevrolet, finished the session ninth with his lap of 1:03.7984, 0.7211 behind leader O’Ward.
- Chevrolet had six drivers and teams represent the Bowtie brand in the top-10 of first Chevrolet Grand Prix of Detroit practice.
TEAM CHEVY TOP-10 PRACTICE RESULT:
- Pos. Driver
- 1st Pato O’Ward
- 5th Felix Rosenqvist
- 6th Alexander Rossi
- 7th Will Power
- 9th Callum Ilott
- 10th Scott McLaughlin
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING (QUOTES)
Scott McLaughlin, No. 3 Chevrolet at Team Penske:
“It was a good day for us. The XPEL Chevy is pretty decent but we just couldn’t get a clean lap. There was just a lot of traffic out there today, but it is to be expected a bit on a tight course. Everyone is trying to figure out what their optimal lap is and not really worried about getting out of the way. I’m sure that will sort itself out when it’s time to race.”
Pato O’Ward, No. 5 Chevrolet at Arrow McLaren INDYCAR:
“It’s definitely a unique track. I think it has a lot of characteristics from all the other street courses that we go to in terms of, like, pavements, certain type of corners. We rolled off strong. I think there’s a lot of first times, first time here, first time with the double pit lane. I think that’s going to be interesting in the race with the blend line where it is. I think the pit exit is going to be something to look out for in both qualifying, like impeding. I don’t know if they’re going to mark it as impeding but it definitely gets you out of place if someone is sent there while you’re on a flyer. A work in progress. Probably not a lot of space to work with. I know everybody is doing their best. It’s a challenging track, I can tell you that.”
Felix Rosenqvist, No. 6 Chevrolet at Arrow McLaren INDYCAR:
“Very different kind of. You’re not, like, using the wings of the car really here. It’s very mechanical grip track. Pretty much every corner is first gear except for the one leading onto the back straight. You’re just kind of, like Kyle said, the car is always doing something weird. It’s dancing around, bouncing around, and at the same time you’re trying to keep it off the wall. It’s busy from the driver’s standpoint. It’s very busy. It’s probably going to catch people out in the race, I think. I think it will be really interesting to see going into the hairpin ’cause I was never really close to another car. But to try to make a pass, like how that’s going to work with a bump there and braking. It’s going to be for sure entertaining. Yeah, new challenge. I think the goal is to roll out and see how it is, try to make it good. As Pato (O’Ward) said, we rolled off pretty strong. We’re definitely in the window.”
Alexander Rossi, No. 7 Chevrolet at Arrow McLaren INDYCAR:
”It’s always crazy coming to a new place. There were a lot of theories of what it would be like, so it was nice to finally get out there. I think we’re starting from a pretty good place from a balance and performance standpoint. Certainly, everyone’s going to improve a lot overnight, and we just need to make sure we stay on top of the development of the track.”
Gavin Ward, Race Director with Arrow McLaren INDYCAR:
“Decent start on a new track. You always have to find your way a little bit, but obviously our cars are all up there in the mix. Now is when the hard work starts. We have a lot to do to try and squeeze every bit of performance out of the car for tomorrow now that we have some real data to chew on. I have full faith in our team that we’re going to make steps overnight and we’ll be in the mix.”
Santino Ferrucci, No. 14 Chevrolet at AJ Foyt Racing:
“We just started off the weekend on something that was a hypothetical set up we couldn’t change in session. It just didn’t work for either car, so obviously, we’ll go back and start building on what we were learning from Long Beach.”
Benjamin Pedersen, No. 55 Chevrolet at AJ Foyt Racing:
“Tricky first session. Obviously, we were pretty far off with what we thought was going to work. But we have a great team around us. We have a lot of data to look at overnight, and we’ll do our best to make some big improvements for the next practice.”
Agustin Canapino, No. 78 Chevrolet at Juncos Hollinger Racing:
“I damaged the car on the right side, so our session is done (early). It’s a shame because we are doing a good job at the moment.”
PATO O’WARD, No. 5 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet, and FELIX ROSEQVIST, No. 6 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet – End of Day Press Conference:
Q. Pato and Felix, Chevy had six of the top 10 spots in the first session. Winning is important everywhere, but is there any additional emphasis on this race around the Chevy than being on Belle Isle?
PATO O’WARD: I mean, obviously it’s a huge event for our partner in Chevy. Out of an Indy 500, this is for sure another race that they want to win.
It’s good to say, but it’s too early to tell. It’s so competitive. In some sessions I think you’ll see being dominated by maybe one manufacturer, but the next session can shift. It really depends on how hard you work with your engineers to kind of get the thing to your liking, obviously work with your manufacturers, in our case Chevy, to really try to maximize.
The bumps make it a challenge in downshifting, upshifting, power-downs, all those different scenarios. It’s definitely a strong start, but it’s too early to tell. We need to keep our heads down and keep pushing because everybody is going to make their car go faster.
Q. Can you give us some early predictions on how you think the split pit will play out, how pivotal that will be?
FELIX ROSENQVIST: I mean, I always felt when the sessions started, there were quite a lot of cars coming in, four-wide, into how do you say the funneling section? It’s kind of unique in that way because you have the pit speed limit off section is way further, like after the funnel. We’re going to have to figure out who’s going first in there. I think there’s going to be some situations where people probably don’t want to lift.
Yeah, I mean, that’s kind of what INDYCAR is, that we battle it out on track. I think that’s pretty cool. Yeah, let’s hope it doesn’t crash us in pit lane.
Q. Felix, Scott Dixon described with the lack of mechanical grip on these cars, the cars have a tendency to feel fat and top-heavy. You mentioned you’re using mechanical grip. Do you see that as being the biggest reason why the cars are moving around so much on this track, and what can you do to compensate for that?
FELIX ROSENQVIST: I think this track is probably the most important in terms of damping. That’s pretty much the biggest tool we have to work with mechanical grip. Yeah, we don’t have, I don’t think I’ve even talked about aero today with my engineer, front wing, anything like that, because there’s only one corner where you really feel it.
It’s a different challenge. I think these cars, they have quite a lot of downforce. Normally there’s a lot of emphasis on making the things efficient with downforce and drag and such things. But here it’s just like the more mechanical grip the better. It’s kind of back to go-kart days in that sense.
Q. Pato and Kyle (Kirkwood), does the car feel that much different to you here than it does on any other street course?
PATO O’WARD: I personally think these slow-speed corners are way better than, like, a four or five, six, seven, eight in Nashville. It doesn’t get worse than four through eight in Nashville.
In these, to me, it reminds me a lot of turn five from Belle Isle for some reason. Four and five, I don’t know if you guys agree. But, yeah, they’re obviously —
KYLE KIRKWOOD: The grip level, you mean?
PATO O’WARD: Yeah.
KYLE KIRKWOOD: Yeah.
PATO O’WARD: It is what it is, right? But obviously these cars, I mean, the wings are there to help us, but when you’re going in first gear, they’re not doing much. That’s where we start getting all the ugly stuff, rear locking, all that stuff.
It is what it is. Obviously the bumps aren’t going to help either. Yeah, it’s not very different to other places, street courses that we go to, slow speed.
Q. With the number of red flags today, all the guys in the runoff, how important is getting an early banker in qualifying going to be?
FELIX ROSENQVIST: Yeah, I mean, it’s going to be pretty huge, I think. I have to say everyone was well-behaved this session. When you go long, that’s part of the game, when you try to find lap time. Sometimes you end up in the runoff. People stalling was an issue. I didn’t see too much on TV. Seemed like almost everyone kept it out of the wall, that was pretty cool.
Obviously, such a short track in qualifying, you’re probably never going to go a perfect lap around here. You have to get a banker in and see if you can improve it and take what you get just to transfer.
Q. Probably your engineers can answer better, but you weren’t out on full fuel loads. Do any of you see a possibility of bottoming out? What do you do for that?
FELIX ROSENQVIST: It’s only really end of the straight that is a challenge. Actually on average, we don’t bottom a lot here ’cause everything is slow speed. If you take Nashville or most of the road courses, like you’ll drag the floor of the car all around a lap. Here it’s only one section.
You probably have to deal with it a bit there, but the rest of the lap it will be fine.
Q. Because we’re not at Belle Isle, we’re here, is it a lot hotter in the car? How is it going to be throughout the race?
PATO O’WARD: To me, the worst I’ve ever felt is Nashville with the 90-something percent humidity.
I felt fine.
Q. Pato, compare this track to Belle Isle in terms of how rough it is, also how physical the lap is.
PATO O’WARD: Belle Isle I’d say is easier. There is a lot more fast corners in Belle Isle.
Here there’s really one, and that is turn two. It really isn’t that fast. Like Belle Isle turn one and two, the last corner, those are fricking fast corners to be in a street course, with a lot of bumps.
I’m a very big fan of Belle Isle. I was very sad to see it leave the calendar. But it’s a different track. It’s a new track. It’s going to be a great event.
Yeah, I mean, I feel like Belle Isle has a lot of very different corners that get the circuit together. Here we’ve got nine corners, one chicane, a lot of very similar kind of first speed corners I’d say, one hairpin, yeah.
THE MODERATOR: Is it rougher here?
PATO O’WARD: Yes, yes. I mean, it is, but it’s nothing out of the ordinary, yeah. It’s drivable, for sure.
Q. How do you think traffic is going to be over the course of the weekend and the race?
FELIX ROSENQVIST: I mean, it’s probably going to be among the worst on the calendar ’cause you have probably the shortest lap I think. It’s a 50 —
PATO O’WARD: It’s going to get tight if you want to get by somebody in the race. I can tell you that.
FELIX ROSENQVIST: I think normally in qualifying it’s fine when you split up the groups. It will be among the worst to get a gap.