Pato O'Ward

Pato O’Ward continues to be the main man – and now the favorite for the NTT P1 Award – at the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach after he led practice Saturday morning under sunny Southern California skies.

Ward kept his record perfect in two practices on the 11-turn, 1.968-mile temporary street circuit, leading the session this morning with a top lap of 1 minute, 5.9982 seconds in the No. 5 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet. That was the quickest lap so far this weekend, as he led Friday practice at 1:06.6999.

SEE: Practice Results

NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship leader O’Ward will look to win the NTT P1 Award during qualifying, which starts at 3:05 p.m. ET today (live, Peacock, INDYCAR LIVE, INDYCAR Radio Network).

O’Ward held off a train of three Andretti Autosport cars that took the second, third and fourth spots in practice.

Kyle Kirkwood ended up second at 1:06.0149 in the No. 27 AutoNation Honda, followed by teammate Romain Grosjean at 1:06.0629 in the No. 28 DHL Honda. Last year’s pole sitter and 2021 Long Beach winner Colton Herta was fourth at 1:06.1475 in the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda fielded by Andretti.

“The session went very well for all of us,” Grosjean said of the Andretti brigade. “We have a strong package. We’re going to analyze a few things, as the track temp is going to change a lot for qualifying, so we need to keep an eye on that. I think we have a good car.”

Scott McLaughlin rounded out the top five at 1:06.1870 in the No. 3 Sonsio Team Penske Chevrolet.

The hour-long session was frisky, with wall contact both slight and significant, and cars dodging near-miss collisions while jockeying for space and clean air.

Turn 5 was Calamity Corner during the early moments of the session, resulting in two red flags in the first 15 minutes.

Callum Ilott and Rinus VeeKay both launched over the curbs at the apex of Turn 5 and into the outside tire barrier in separate incidents. Ilott hit the barrier in his No. 77 Juncos Hollinger Racing Chevrolet just three minutes into the session, while VeeKay hit the tires in his No. 21 Chevrolet 14 minutes into practice. Both drivers were unhurt, but their cars will need significant repairs before NTT P1 Award qualifying.