Good day for O’Ward at WWTR soured by traffic and marbles
By David Malsher-Lopez August 27, 2023 7:24 PM
By David Malsher-Lopez | August 27, 2023 7:24 PM ET
Pato O’Ward, who scored his seventh podium finish of the 2023 IndyCar season at World Wide Technology Raceway, said there was nothing wrong with this strategy but he was fed up with uncooperative backmarkers and the fact that the marbling issue was worse than usual.
O’Ward’s Arrow McLaren Chevrolet finished some 22s behind winner Scott Dixon, who made only three fuel stops to most of his rivals’ five, and only just held off Dale Coyne Racing with HMD’s David Malukas at the checkered flag.
Yet O’Ward stated: “I’m happy with today. I’m super happy with the strategy. I don’t think we would have been able to make that three-stopper work. Boys were stout in the pits. Super happy with the car.”
He said there was nothing he could do about the winner.
“Scott Dixon decided to do a Dixon today,” he shrugged. “Whenever they told me, ‘He’s going to try to make it without stopping again, the guy’s going to do it for sure…’ He just does it. He’s just Scott Dixon, you know? I feel like [fuel saving] is what he’s best known for… He knows how to do it better than anybody with a great combination that he has with his team and car and everything. It’s a bummer that we weren’t even close to kind of even race him.”
However, O’Ward, who is now only 11 points outside the top three in the championship, said that backmarkers had been obstructive when being lapped
“A bit annoyed with all the lappers,” he said. “I’m sure David and Scott are, as well. It’s nothing new, but it has to change.”
He later added: “At Texas, you don’t need them to move because you have a second lane. But you have nothing to do here. I feel it’s more of a gentleman’s agreement, but nobody follows it. I feel like I’ve followed it pretty much all my career. If I’m not having a good day, I’m not going to screw your race.
“Hopefully that comes in return whenever I am having a good day and they’re not, which has been a few cases. Definitely it’s not everybody, but the consistent lappers, it’s like, ‘Dude…’”
Asked if the heavy marbling made drivers more reluctant to move aside, O’Ward said, “No, just slow down on the straightaway and somebody pass by. It’s super simple.”
Regarding the IndyCar-Firestone experiment with running primary and alternate tires, as on a road or street course, O’Ward felt the softer rubber had magnified the usual WWTR issue of too much rubber off-line, yet he is not against the principle.
“It brought in some pretty horrendous marbles onto the racetrack, which made the second lane almost impossible to use,” he said. “I don’t think I was the only one…
“Not that the blacks don’t create marbles, but definitely this alternate tire was a special add-on to that. It made it pretty hard. The difference in grip wasn’t that big of a difference…
“I think two different tires for the ovals is actually pretty cool. I just think if they want good racing, we can’t be in single file. Then even the lappers can be racing with the leaders.”
Arrow McLaren, Pato O'Ward, World Wide Technology Raceway, IndyCar