Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward says he believes he has earned his spot in the NTT IndyCar Series where he can fight for podiums and wins as he will start Sunday’s season opening Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama from pole position in the No.5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet.

Speaking following the session, O’Ward said:

“I feel like I have earned my spot in the sport to challenge for podiums and wins. “Man, we’ve been working so hard in the offseason, and we’re clicking. Everyone in the team is working well together, and I knew exactly what I needed to get the time out of the reds (Firestone alternate tires), especially. We just had to maintain pace on blacks (Firestone primary tires) because I thought we were pretty strong.

“We did that, and we’re starting on pole. It feels good. These guys deserve it. We’ve got a race to win tomorrow.”

Speaking to Paddock Eye during a conference call following qualifying, O’Ward spoke about his love of confidence starting up front saying:

It’s a great start to qualifying this year, but we’ve got a job to finish tomorrow. The race is very long. We can’t get too ahead of ourselves. We need to execute. Everybody has to do their job. I think we’re going to be just fine at the end of the race.

We just need to watch our back in certain yellows that might put you in a difficult position, just pace it out, throw down some good laps. We’re going to have clean air in front of us for at least the first part of the race. But we’ve got a quick car. We’ve got a quick car. Lots of smart guys are going to be finding the optimum strategy, just everything with tires and everything.

I think we’ve got a good shot to do it tomorrow. I love this place. It’s a great track. Especially in qualifying, it’s mega. When you lay down a lap, it’s really cool. It would be really cool to win here because I’ve had some good success here in Indy Lights and Indy Pro 2000. I’d like to close it out in INDYCAR, as well.

The Mexican driver also went tell us:

Like I said, last year I found out not the hard way, I found out many times, many different situations, many different circuits, that when you start seventh or eighth or further back, it is tougher. It’s tougher, just like in a superspeedway as well. If you’re behind 10 cars or two cars, it makes a big difference. Those wings like clean air.

We have the best view into turn one tomorrow. We’re just going to be going for the win for sure. Should be good, man. I’m excited. I’m excited. I’m going to get some good rest today and we’ll be ready to give it all tomorrow.

O’Ward continued saying:

“It feels great to start the year on a high note. First pole position of the year at a track that I love, Barber Motorsports Park. I always love coming here. I will have the best view into Turn 1, but we have a job to finish tomorrow. We want to win this race, and we are going to go for it. We have a quick car. We need to execute and not make any mistakes, but I have faith in the No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet and faith in myself that we can do it.”

While it may have been a great qualifying for O’Ward, for his new teammate at Arrow McLaren SP, Felix Rosenqvist in the No.7 Vuse Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet as he starts the race from 22nd place having failed to set a time and speaking following the session he said:

“It’s a shame that I spun on my third lap in Round One since we were going to make through to the next round. I really feel bad for the guys because I think we had a really good car. Pato went on the pole so I really wasted an opportunity there when I put it in the gravel. It is what it is. We just have to come up with something clever tomorrow for the race and do something different to see if we can get some spots because overtaking is always difficult here. We will figure something out. On to tomorrow.”

Arrow McLaren SP Team President Taylor Kiel said:

“Qualifying was good for Arrow McLaren SP. Pato did a great job on delivering a fast car, we chipped at it all day and it was a tough day. We had some adversity we worked through but all in all we got the job done. I’m disappointed for Felix because I know he had the pace and was just as quick as Pato all weekend. It’s unfortunate but we will rebound and I’ve got no doubts they’ll both have a great race tomorrow.”

 

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