Pato O’Ward came into last year’s 2021 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach with an outside chance to clinch the championship. After contact early that ultimately led to his car’s retirement; that put a sour note on the ending of an otherwise strong, two-race winning season. In fact, his race wins earned him a McLaren Formula One Team test during the off-season. Leading into this year’s race, O’Ward had disappointing finishes on the street circuit in St. Pete and on the oval at Texas (where he had a fast car). He was hoping to have better luck here on this picturesque seaside street circuit where he receives a lot of fan support around the track (especially the Mexican fans). We spoke before the race weekend and he shared his thoughts on a number of subjects leading into this race (where he would end up finishing in fifth place). That was good momentum for him going into the remainder of the season. Enjoy!
NOTE: In the next race at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama, O’Ward would go on to make a decisive pass late in the race and take the victory. He’s now won on a street course, permanent road course and an oval. Keep your eyes on this young lion.
By Larry Mason
Copyright © 2022 Larry Mason
Pato O’Ward waves to the crowd just minutes before the start of the 2022 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach where he qualified 11th and would go on to earn a top five finish.
Pato O’Ward is on a mission this year to earn his first NTT IndyCar Series championship. After a rocky start to the season, things picked up in the right direction at Long Beach.
Pato O’Ward rockets down Shoreline Drive early in the race. Notice how pristine and clean the car is. Later in the race the massive amount of rubber “marbles” on the track would take its toll on that clean car.
O’Ward pushed hard in the race to earn his first top five finish of the year. Notice the rubber build up not only on the track but even on the body ramps in front of the rear tires.
Late in the race, O’Ward’s still pushing hard to gain every position he can. Rubber tire marks makes for a filthy car, yet it always looks better when you have a strong finish.
Interview and photos Copyright © by Larry Mason