Pato O'Ward

Depending on who you ask, Arrow McLaren either nudged into the “Big Three” pecking order of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES last year with Team Penske and Chip Ganassi Racing or joined Andretti Autosport and those two teams to create a “Big Four” power structure in the series.

That doesn’t look like it will change any time soon.

Arrow McLaren drivers took the top three spots on the time sheet Tuesday, Feb. 14 during the second straight day of private testing at Sebring (Florida) International Raceway. Pato O’Ward was quickest overall in the team’s No. 5 Chevrolet, with team newcomer Alexander Rossi .252 of a second behind in the No. 7 Chevrolet. Felix Rosenqvist rounded out the Arrow McLaren power play in third, .353 of a second behind O’Ward, in the No. 6 Chevrolet.

Also turning laps in the seven-car test were drivers from Team Penske, Chip Ganassi Racing and AJ Foyt Racing.

Monday vs. Tuesday

Nine drivers tested Monday at Sebring, and while it’s probably unfair to compare times from the two days due to weather differences, it’s still fun. So, here goes.

O’Ward’s top time Tuesday was .177 of a second quicker than the top overall lap set Monday by Romain Grosjean of Andretti Autosport in the team’s No. 28 Honda.

Nasr, Cassidy Get Taste of NTT INDYCAR SERIES

Team Penske and Chip Ganassi Racing took the opportunity to collect data and audition drivers not in their NTT INDYCAR SERIES driver lineups at Sebring.

Felipe Nasr of Brazil, who drives a Porsche 963 LMDh prototype for Porsche Penske Motorsport in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, ended up fourth overall Tuesday behind the wheel of Team Penske’s No. 2 Chevrolet driven full time by Josef Newgarden. Former Formula One driver Nasr ended up .357 of a second behind overall leader O’Ward.

CGR took the opportunity to test Formula E race winner Nick Cassidy of New Zealand in the No. 10 Honda driven this season by Alex Palou, who is departing CGR after this season for a to-be-determined role with McLaren Racing. Cassidy was sixth overall, .635 of a second behind O’Ward, in his first outing in NTT INDYCAR SERIES machinery.

Improvement for Foyt

AJ Foyt Racing drivers Santino Ferrucci and Benjamin Pedersen continued to make progress Wednesday at Sebring, closing the gap between themselves and the top of the time sheets.

Ferrucci was fourth overall in Foyt’s No. 14 Chevrolet, .474 of a second behind leader O’Ward. Rookie Pedersen was seventh, .657 of a second behind O’Ward.

It takes drivers only about half the time to turn a lap at the Sebring circuit used for INDYCAR SERIES testing than a lap at The Thermal Club, where an open test was conducted Feb. 2-3. Looking at that proportionally with lap times, Foyt’s team is improving.

Ferrucci was 1.5 seconds off the leader’s pace in Thermal, with Pedersen 1.7 seconds behind. Slice those gaps in half to account for the approximately 50 percent shorter lap time at Sebring, and a pure statistics comparison would extrapolate to see Ferrucci at .75 of a second and Pedersen at .85 of a second behind the leaders at Sebring. Instead, Ferrucci was .474 behind and Pedersen .657 behind.

Sure, not every driver participated in this private test, unlike at Thermal. And there are many other variables at play. But progress looks underway with Super Tex’s team and his young tandem of drivers.

All Eyes on St. Petersburg

It’s almost showtime, folks.

Teams are returning to their shops to continue final preparations for the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding on Sunday, March 5 (noon ET, NBC, Peacock, INDYCAR Radio Network).

T-minus 16 days and counting until the first practice session of the season at St. Petersburg …