Pato O’Ward and Josef Newgarden have both had strong starts to the season. We caught up with them just off the red carpet at the “100 Days to Indy” premiere at the Long Beach Convention Center on Wednesday evening just prior to the 2023 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach. O’Ward talks about his focus after two, second-place finishes to start the year. Newgarden talks about how competitive the series is as a whole and his strategy for Long Beach. They both chime in on their aspirations for success at the Indy 500 which (when this was taped and the interview was briefly interrupted by James Hinchcliffe) was only 50 days away. Enjoy!
NOTE: Josef Newgarden went on to win the “500” while O’Ward led the most laps before crashing out with seven laps to go.
By Larry Mason
Copyright © 2023 Larry Mason
Pato O’Ward (l) and Josef Newgarden (m) get interviewed by Fast Lane’s Larry Mason (r). –Photo credit: SRM Photography
Josef Newgarden is leading Pato O’Ward through Turn 10 early in the race weekend. These two guys are friends off the track but fierce competitors on the track. After they both showed flashes of brilliance at Long Beach, they both faded in the final results.
O’Ward utilized the green sidewall Guayule tires to qualify in the Firestone Fast Six (sixth) by hitting all his apexes with precision.
Pato O’Ward was having a nice Sunday drive at Long Beach until contact with Scott Dixon in Turn 8 on lap 20. A secondary contact (with eventual winner Kyle Kirkwood) on lap 26 in the same corner left O’Ward sliding backwards into the tire barrier while also getting clipped by Marcus Ericsson. He would eventually finish 17th one lap down.
O’Ward knows how to go fast and win races. Often complemented on his “quick hands” that assist driving his car on the ragged edge of adhesion, here he looks quite steady working his way through Turn 10.
Newgarden isn’t a two-time champion and Indy 500 winner by cruising around. Notice how hard he’s working the tires here in Turn 6.
After qualifying in eighth place at Long Beach, Newgarden quickly worked his way to the front and showed his rear wing to all the other competitors. Unfortunately, an early final pit stop put him into fuel-save mode and he faded to ninth at the end.
The circle of greenery and flowers at Long Beach were a precursor to the winner’s wreath Newgarden would wear after winning the 107th Indianapolis 500 just a few weeks later!
A first for Team Penske and Josef Newgarden is having Caitlyn Brown (with blonde ponytail) as the inside front tire changer. After changing the tire, she’s shown here making a wing adjustment during the Grand Prix morning warmup. She proved to be a key team member in Newgarden’s “500” victory.
Interview and photos Copyright © by Larry Mason (unless otherwise noted)