Pato O’Ward earned a third place starting position for Saturday’s Gallagher Grand Prix from the Indianapolis road course, but his strong performance was anything but assured.
O’Ward’s Arrow McLaren SP Chevy did not start the weekend with a good setup, and the Mexican driver slid off the track multiple times and could only log the 20th fastest time in the opening practice session.
The problems were not resolved by time qualifying came around later in the afternoon, and O’Ward felt that he was going to have trouble advancing out of the first round.
It was then that the talented driver decided he was going to have to pull out every trick he knew to salvage a good performance, and it worked better than he had hoped.
“Extremely happy with, first of all, making it to the Fast Six because when we started qualifying we were in trouble, just as we were in FP1,” said O’Ward.
“It was extremely difficult to drive, like even worse than FP1 in the morning. So I was like, oh, we’re in trouble. But [the team] were like, man, we can’t change anything.
“I was like, you know what, I’m just going to try and pull something out of my hat to see if we can transfer, and when they told us we transferred, I was like, whew.
“Then we were able to make a longer change, which then put me in a way happier window for the second shot of qualifying and then that transferred us into the Fast Six.
“I don’t know how we did that, but we turned it around, and we got the car into a window where I could work with it, and yeah, I don’t think anybody had anything for Felix [Rosenqvist’s] lap. Great job to him.”
The strong qualifying performance will help O’Ward in his bid to climb back to the top of the championship standings.
With only five races remaining, he sits in fifth place overall, but only 36 points behind Marcus Ericsson who had mechanical troubles and will start from the back of the pack.
The 85-lap race takes place on Saturday afternoon, at 12:30 PM Eastern Time.