The 2023 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season has been feast or famine for Pato O’Ward.
The 24-year-old Mexican started fourth and converted it into a respectable third-place finish in the Gallagher Grand Prix on Saturday, Aug. 12. It was his second podium result in as many events on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course this season, nearly matching his runner-up early May’s GMR Grand Prix.
What’s more, the most recent outing at the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course gives O’Ward, driver of the No. 5 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet, a career-high six podiums on the year with three rounds remaining. Only championship leader Alex Palou has more, with eight.
Although three finishes outside the top 10, including two worse than 20th, have hurt consistency and put O’Ward fifth in the championship standings, it’s the goose egg in the victory column that weighs heaviest.
“A fricking win would be great,” O’Ward said. “Yeah, I've been driving my ass off every single race. There is nothing more than I want than to get wins. Obviously, there's been little things here and there that have got us out of contention and out of being able to kind of capitalize on that.”
An exhausted O’Ward during the post-race festivities admitted to being “very pleased” with the outcome last Saturday. Part of that comes with understanding the pace of his rivals, specifically the No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda of second-place finisher Graham Rahal.
“I was playing around with Graham in the warm-up, and he was just stronger than me,” O’Ward said. “I know he was. I knew it was going to be a tall ask, just from outright pace, to try and beat them. But I was very happy with my car balance. I was very happy with every other call. Yeah, we just got to keep pushing.”
The Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Axalta and Valvoline, Aug. 27 at World Wide Technology Raceway, is the final oval race of the season and starts a stretch of three consecutive race weekends to crown a series champion. Palou can clinch his second title in the last three seasons if he leads by 108 points or more after the race at WWTR. He leads by 101 over Scott Dixon.