LONG BEACH – Pato O’Ward knew he had only a mediocre chance of emerging with a series championship after coming into Sunday’s NTT IndyCar season-finalist at the Acura Grand Prix in Long Beach.
He entered 35 points behind Alex Palu and knew that Palu only needed to finish 12th or better to claim the title, which he placed fourth behind winners Colton Herta, Joseph Newgarden and Scott Dixon. Stayed done.
But O’Ward never really got a chance to compete. Ed Jones went around a tight corner on Lap 1 and tapped it. His gearbox was damaged, and he was out of the race on lap 18.
O’Ward, who works hard for Arrow McLaren SP, surprisingly re-entered the race on lap 53 and went 26 more before dropping out again. One thing is certain, he was not happy with Jones.
“Yeah, this isn’t the first time he’s hit us, it’s not the first time he’s been doing something stupid all season long,” O’Ward said during a trackside television interview. “So I just wish he could use his head a little more, at least respect the people who are fighting for the championship.”
O’Ward finished 27th and third in series points behind Palu and Joseph Newgarden.
IndyCar driver Helio Castroneves got upset during the morning warmup for the main event when Alexander Rossi came out of the pits and tapped Castroneves’s car.
Castronevs was clearly upset as he spoke to a wide variety of people.
Rossi was asked about it during a trackside television interview after the warmup.
“I’ll tell you if, man, things have been cooking since Portland (earlier this month) — not cooking — but like, he likes to jump in line when we try to get all the gaps and everything. And it happened yesterday, it happened in Portland,” Rossi said.
Rossi scoffs at the notion that he is to blame.
“But the fact that he thinks any of it was my fault is hilarious,” Rossi said. “I think when you’re a four-time Indy 500 champion, you’re the one to have your opinion; he’s entitled to it. But he’s wrong.”
Castroneves, 46, won his record-tie fourth Indianapolis 500 in May. He works hard for Meyer-Shank Racing, Rossi drives for Andretti Autosport.
Castroneves angrily told a trackside reporter, “He (Rossi) should see what’s going on, and it’s completely unnecessary.”
Two-time defending race champion Rossi finished sixth. Castroneves was in 20th place.
Historical Formula Atlantic
Todd Willing won his second race in two days in the historic Formula Atlantic series on Sunday morning. Willing’s top time of Gros Point, Michigan was 1:26.958 on lap 8 of 11.
Walnut Creek’s Steve Romack was second, as he was Saturday, and Houston’s Gray Gregory was third.
On Saturday, Willing clocked his best time of 1:27.082 in his seventh of 13 laps.
Later, he reflected on the road experience.
“I think when you’ve got concrete walls everywhere, it’s not easy,” he said. “You have to take care of yourself. … It was really fun to just soak up the atmosphere and watch the crowds.”
Bruce Flanders honored
Longtime Grand Prix race announcer Bruce Flanders was honored ahead of Sunday’s main event by Jim Michaelian, CEO of the Long Beach Grand Prix Association.
Michelian said a few words and then showed a video of him doing the Flanders work. Flanders was inducted into the Long Beach Motorsports Walk of Fame in 2016.
He died last August at the age of 75.