Where to begin with Arrow McLaren SP’s strong start at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course that ended with so much disappointment?
A team that qualified two cars in the top four finished without much to show for it.
A mechanical failure first took out Felix Rosenqvist, who started The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Presented by the All-New 2023 Civic Type R in the fourth position. Soon thereafter, NTT P1 Award winner Pato O’Ward began experiencing similar power trouble that eventually stopped his car.
O’Ward finished 24th, Rosenqvist 27th.
The NTT INDYCAR SERIES has had nine different drivers win a pole in the first nine races this season, but only one has gone to victory lane (Scott McLaughlin in St. Petersburg). O’Ward became the fourth pole winner to finish that race in the 20s – Rosenqvist was another at Texas Motor Speedway.
Pole winners this season have an average finish of 11.4.
O’Ward also suffered in the standings, losing a position. He is now fifth, 65 points behind series leader Marcus Ericsson of Chip Ganassi Racing.
“Apparently (the trouble) was something (related to) fuel delivery,” the driver of the No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet said. “It just kept getting worse and worse and worse … (it) just failed.
“It’s a bummer, man. It’s frustrating because we’ve thrown away an easy pole for us. We’ve had a lot of pace during the (weekend). The car was really well put together for qualifying.”
Because the issue became apparent early in the race, O’Ward was left to suffer with it until the car finally quit running leaving the pit box for the final stop on Lap 54.
“I was trying to switch to the emergency modes and different (fuel) maps,” O’Ward said of the things he was trying to do to resolve the issue. “It started really falling off in the maps that actually give you power and then the ones that help you save fuel it was kind of wanting to stay in there – then it was failing in those two. I couldn’t even get to sixth gear.
“You’re pretty much helpless from there.”
Rosenqvist was seeking his fifth consecutive top-10 finish.
The Swede driving the No 7 Vuse Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet had qualified fourth and passed for third place on primary Firestone tires, but on Lap 9 his car bogged down coming through Turn 2. Within seconds, his race was over.
“It’s just unfortunate,” he said. “We had a really, really, really good run. I feel for all the Arrow McLaren SP guys that work so hard … big loss.
“You never know what would happen later on, but I just felt like we were sailing out there. I think we showed we were up there fighting for positions. We just have to come back and do it all again.”
Odds and Ends
· At least from a fame standpoint, Rinus VeeKay (No. 21 BitNile Chevrolet of Ed Carpenter Racing) had one of the passes of the season. In one corner on Lap 39, he overtook two-time series champion Josef Newgarden (No. 2 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet) and six-time series champion Scott Dixon (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda). Newgarden and Rossi have combined to win eight Mid-Ohio races.
· Team Penske drivers have won six of the nine races this season, including three in succession since the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge (won by Marcus Ericsson of Chip Ganassi Racing).
· Ericsson finished sixth in the No. 8 Ridgeline Lubricants Honda, giving away seven points of his lead when Power finished third. They are separated by 20 points with eight races to go.
· In the No. 3 Odyssey Battery Team Penske Chevrolet, McLaughlin scored the 50th overall race win for Roger Penske’s motorsports empire.
· As further proof that series rookie David Malukas and his No. 18 HMD Honda of Dale Coyne Racing with HMD Motorsports are on the right track, his initial takeaway was disappointment with finishing a career-best ninth. (His best finishes had been a pair of 11ths.) Malukas was the top-finishing rookie after three started in the top 10. Christian Lundgaard of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing finished 11th.
· Hunter McElrea of Andretti Autosport broke through in Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, winning his first series race in dominating fashion. He topped all weekend sessions and led all 35 laps from the pole. Linus Lundqvist of HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing finished third and extending his series lead over to 87 points over Andretti Autosport’s Sting Ray Robb, who finished fifth. Up next for Indy Lights: Iowa Speedway on July 23.
· Louis Foster of Exclusive Autosport pushed his lead in Indy Pro 2000 to 49 points by finishing second to Kiko Porto of DEForce Racing in the back half of the doubleheader. Foster won the first race. Porto’s victory was his first in the series.
· Myles Rowe of Pabst Racing had a terrific weekend in USF2000, jumping to the points lead by winning the first two races and finishing third in Sunday’s finale. Former series leader Michael d’Orlando of Cape Motorsports won the third race, his sixth of the season and the seventh of his career. Rowe’s points lead is 12 over d’Orlando.
· The NTT INDYCAR SERIES returns to action July 22-24 in Toronto. Due to the pandemic and the associated travel restrictions, this will be the first event held at Exhibition Place since 2019. Simon Pagenaud won the most recent race. USF2000 and Indy Pro 2000 are also part of the weekend schedule with doubleheader events.