O’Ward certified sixth and completed fifth on the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey however championship chief Alex Palou of Ganassi certified fourth and completed second. The end result left O’Ward trailing by 35 factors heading into subsequent Sunday’s season finale at Lengthy Seaside.
Consequently, even had been O’Ward to clinch all bonus factors and win the race, Palou would want solely to complete 11th to clinch the 2021 IndyCar championship.
Requested by Autosport if he may nonetheless regard this 12 months as successful resulting from graduating from common podium finisher in 2020 to interrupt by way of with two wins and real title rivalry all 12 months lengthy, O’Ward replied: “Yeah, I feel we have made a major leap in simply execution.
“However we’re not there but. We’re not the place Ganassi is, particularly, as a result of these guys have three vehicles within the high 5 within the championship. If you happen to ask me whose championship it’s to lose, it is them.
“We’re right here as underdogs. It is the primary time we really challenged for a championship of this magnitude, with this quantity of competitiveness. I imply, I do not assume it is ever been this stacked. We’re up towards multi-time champions.
“So I feel it has been a unbelievable 12 months, I’ve to say. I imply, I am very pleased with what we have been in a position to accomplish. Actually pleased with how we have grown. However we’re not there but. We have to hold pushing and we have to hold enhancing.
“I feel after we discover just a little bit additional that we’d like, it ought to put us into rivalry of extra wins simply extra incessantly.”
Patricio OWard, Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet
Picture by: Geoffrey M. Miller / Motorsport Images
Later he added: “I feel we began the 12 months actually sturdy. I have not felt like we have had that weekend the place we’re, like, we’ve got the factor to win. I have not had that feeling that I had in Detroit, Barber, Texas. I imply, we had nice vehicles. We did not have mega superior vehicles, however we had good vehicles. Even earlier than the race I knew I may win the factor.
“Like I stated, it is so powerful. It’s a must to reap the benefits of each single weekend that you’ve got that as a result of they’re uncommon.
“All I am asking is I simply need to be on par with the fellows I am preventing in Lengthy Seaside. I do know I can care for it from there. Each time we do not have the tempo, there’s not a lot I can do.”
Reflecting on his race at Laguna Seca, O’Ward stated the automotive had by no means been a Palou-beater, and that he regarded it as a “miracle” to have salvaged fifth place
“I am like disillusioned/completely satisfied,” he stated. “Glad as a result of I feel we pulled off a miracle with what package deal we had this weekend. We did not have something in any respect. I do not understand how I pulled off a Quick 6 in qualifying, to be pretty sincere. I feel that put us in a fantastic place to start out.
“We took a threat. We began on blacks, as a result of that is our worst tire, has been all 12 months. However the popular tire was new. We solely had one set of recent reds, so we had been pressured to make use of three blacks, one new pink. That was our race.
“We did all the things we may. I fought like hell. So, I imply, we’re type of nonetheless alive within the championship. I do know a variety of issues can fall both our means or towards us in Lengthy Seaside. What we will try to do is simply go there and try to win it and we’ll see the place all the things else falls, I assume.
“If you happen to see our observe periods and warmup, I do not assume we went higher than sixteenth. I feel that simply reveals that for some motive we had been actually struggling to search out tempo. So a fifth I feel is fairly unbelievable for us this weekend.
“With how we began the weekend and with fifth proper now, should you instructed me after Follow 1, ‘You are going to win fifth,’ I’d be, ‘Give it to me!’That’s the absolute most what we had this weekend.”