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IndyCar Indianapolis 500

O’Ward: “Badass” Indy 500 qualifying boost means “that wall comes fast”

Arrow McLaren’s Pato O’Ward says that the extra 100 horsepower available for Indy 500 qualifying means the wall “comes fast, really fast” as tyres lose grip over the four-lap runs.

Patricio O'Ward, Arrow McLaren

O’Ward, who set the pace on Thursday courtesy of a “pretty fat tow lap”, is looking forward to the extra turbo boost that becomes available in today’s so-called ‘Fast Friday’ practice in preparation for the weekend’s qualifying sessions.

“When the boost comes up, the speed is so different,” said O’Ward. “It's so cool.

“Honestly, it's one of the coolest parts about the whole process is just those four laps in qualifying. They can be very enjoyable, but they can be miserable, as well.

“You feel the difference. I think the biggest thing is there's so much more speed that you're carrying through the corner.

“Front right takes a bit more of a beating, and whenever it does decide not to give you that peak grip from lap one to lap four, that wall comes fast – really, really fast.”

With the advent of IndyCar’s new hybrid era next year likely to add more available power on demand, O’Ward was asked if he’d like to race with the extra 100hp that’s on offer for qualifying.

“Oh, my God, those boosts for racing would be gnarly,” he replied. “Too gnarly I'd say.

“I wouldn't say no. Why not?”

Patricio O'Ward, Arrow McLaren Chevrolet

Patricio O'Ward, Arrow McLaren Chevrolet

Photo by: Geoffrey M. Miller / Motorsport Images

When asked about his car’s balance across the week of practice so far, O’Ward quipped: “Just when it's not trying to kill you, it's a lot more enjoyable!

“Guys can be looking so comfortable, but as soon as the boosts come up, it might completely change direction, or it might be, ‘oh, I feel as good or even better’.

“We're going to need to get a few runs in with the boost. You'll see guys today getting super consistent four-lap runs, but as soon as those boosts come up, some fourth laps for people are going to be like… I mean, you feel it. It's just so much faster.

“You can hear the different pitch of the engine that it's producing [more power]. It's freakin’ badass.

“You'll really see a lot of the work that these teams go through in the off-season making those things go as fast as possible.”

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