Arrow McLaren SP's O'Ward leads IndyCar test at Texas

Arrow McLaren SP driver Pato O’Ward continued his strong form in IndyCar off-season testing by topping the speed charts at Texas Motor Speedway on Thursday.

Arrow McLaren SP's O'Ward leads IndyCar test at Texas

The 21-year-old, who won the Indy Lights title in 2018 and finished fourth in his rookie season in IndyCar last year, lapped the 1.44-mile speedway in 23.325s, an average speed of 222.25mph.

That means the Arrow McLaren SP-Chevrolet driver has now led the last three group tests, lending credence to the theory that his blend of pace and consistency will make him a title threat in 2021.

In this instance, he was 1.4mph quicker than the second fastest driver of the day, Alexander Rossi of Andretti Autosport – although the picture is blurred by to what extent each driver got a tow.

Third fastest was Jack Harvey of Meyer Shank Racing, one of seven drivers to take part in the previous day’s test to explore different downforce options.

Simon Pagenaud led Team Penske team-mate Will Power in fourth and fifth respectively, the latter turning the most laps of the day at 247.

Felix Rosenqvist ensured both Arrow McLarens were in the top six, as he led the man he beat to the 2019 Rookie of the Year title, Colton Herta of Andretti Autosport.

The Ed Carpenter Racing machines of Rinus VeeKay and Ed Carpenter were eighth and 11th, sandwiching Josef Newgarden (Penske) and Sebastien Bourdais, driving for AJ Foyt Racing on his team boss’s home territory. 

Scott McLaughlin, Team Penske

Scott McLaughlin, Team Penske

Photo by: Team Penske

Scott McLaughlin got the fourth Penske into the top 12, ahead of his oval racing debut when the series returns to TMS for the double-header on1-2 May.

He turned 233 laps and finished up ahead of several race-winning series veterans including defending Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato, Ryan Hunter-Reay, James Hinchcliffe and Graham Rahal.

Three-time Supercars champion McLaughlin said he has made a lot of progress since his initial foray onto an oval at TMS last year and described his latest running as "a bloody good day".

“I got up to speed a lot quicker, within two or three laps - and that’s just because I understand the speed now, I’ve done laps at Indy," he told Autosport.

“I’m still attacking it with respect and understanding that things can go wrong, but I was just having a lot of fun!

"It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do – try something different – and that’s the whole reason why we’ve made this move.

"This is the first step in that process – oval running, something I’ve never done before – and I’m really enjoying it.”

McLaughlin ran in the all-yellow Pennzoil livery that he will carry on his #3 Penske in May’s 105th running of the Indianapolis 500.

Scott McLaughlin, Team Penske, Rick Mears

Scott McLaughlin, Team Penske, Rick Mears

Photo by: Team Penske

It’s a colour scheme made famous by Team Penske’s four-time Indy 500 winner and three-time Indycar champion Rick Mears.

McLaughlin said that Mears, who has been Penske’s driver adviser since he quit the cockpit in 1992, had been a big help through the oval learning process – particularly with the peculiarity of the turn-in point for Turn 1 at TMS.

“Thankfully, I’ve got Rick Mears helping me, so I understood about timing [the turn-in] and how long it was going to take,” said the rookie.

“Rick was just awesome all day. Anything I wanted to talk about, even olden days stuff, he was there.

"He’s a really cool guy who knows how to simplify everything when he’s explaining it.”

Friday will feature Dale Coyne Racing on track, with Ed Jones being accompanied by Pietro Fittipaldi, who is returning to IndyCar action in preparation for his four races as oval sub for Romain Grosjean and is required to do a refresher test.

Cody Ware, son of race entry co-owner Rick Ware, is also expected to carry out his oval Rookie Orientation Practice.

Testing leaderboard

RANK # DRIVER TEAM ENGINE BEST MPH* TOTAL
1 5 Pato O’Ward Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet 23.325 222.25 146
2 27 Alexander Rossi Andretti Autosport Honda 23.473 220.85 178
3 60 Jack Harvey Meyer-Shank Racing Honda 23.505 220.55 205
4 22 Simon Pagenaud Team Penske Chevrolet 23.515 220.46 224
5 12 Will Power Team Penske Chevrolet 23.520 220.41 247
6 7 Felix Rosenqvist Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet 23.556 220.07 136
7 26 Colton Herta Andretti Autosport Honda 23.604 219.62 197
8 21 Rinus VeeKay Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet 23.608 219.59 208
9 2 Josef Newgarden Team Penske Chevrolet 23.680 218.92 219
10 14 Sebastien Bourdais A.J. Foyt Racing Chevrolet 23.700 218.73 166
11 20 Ed Carpenter Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet 23.707 218.67 162
12 3 Scott McLaughlin Team Penske Chevrolet 23.762 218.16 233
13 30 Takuma Sato Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda 23.800 217.815 184
14 28 Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti Autosport Honda 23.807 217.75 167
15 29 James Hinchcliffe Andretti Autosport Honda 23.838 217.47 160
16 15 Graham Rahal Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda 23.895 216.95 207
17 4 Dalton Kellett A.J. Foyt Racing Chevrolet 23.922 216.70 140

 

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Series IndyCar
Author David Malsher
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