FORT WORTH, Texas (AP)Pato O’Ward isn’t dwelling on the temporary loss of engine power that almost certainly cost him a victory in the season-opening IndyCar race on the streets of downtown St. Petersburg. He is instead focused on the second-place finish that he did have.
“It’s just all about looking at how our weekend went,” O’Ward said Wednesday. “In ‘21 and ’22, we had terrible weekends there. So ‘23, qualified third and we ended the race on the podium. We went forward even with having a couple of issues. That’s a fantastic start to our (season).”
Still, it could have been even better. O’Ward led with three laps remaining March 5 when his Arrow-McLauren Chevrolet had a sudden loss of power. That brief hiccup allowed Indianapolis 500 winner Marcus Ericsson to pass him, and drive on to the victory.
During an appearance at Texas Motor Speedway to promote the April 2 race where he got the first of his four career IndyCar wins in 2021, O’Ward said that a “plenum issue” was to blame at St. Pete. That part is related to the fuel-air mixture in the engine.
“We all win and lose together as a team,” O’Ward said. “It’s not like it was done on purpose. It’s something that is sometimes inevitable.”
Rob Buckner, Chevrolet’s IndyCar program manager, told Motorsport.com that it was a very rare occurrence.
“Unfortunately, in the entire lifetime of this program, that was the most consequential one we’ve had,” Bucker said. “Terrible timing. And it was absolutely on us. I hate it for the No. 5 car and hate it for Pato, because I’m very confident they had the race won without that.”
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