Patricio “Pato” O’Ward is having a great season with strong finishes on a weekly basis to currently tie teammate Aaron Telitz for the Pro Mazda points lead.
Going into the weekend, O’Ward said he liked the 11-turn temporary street circuit, stating it produced exciting racing. With how tough it may be, he said you have to stay relaxed and not over think things as “that’s when mistakes happen, and championships are lost.”
Unfortunately, a mistake happened on Saturday in the first of two races at the Honda Indy Toronto as he crashed, resulting in his first finish outside of the top four this year.
He rebounded on Sunday to post a runner-up finish despite being knocked back to fifth on the start. The key for O’Ward was setting up the passes he could at the right times, despite the circuit being narrow and slippery.
“Every corner has asphalt and concrete together, which makes the car loose everywhere,” he told POPULAR OPEN WHEEL. “It’s a track where the set-up has to be good, but the big difference will be who gets through there the quickest and smoothest.”
While O’Ward fought adversity, Telitz swept the events on the weekend to put the Team Pelfrey teammates in a tie. Notably, Pelfrey has won each of the races so far this year, which O’Ward attributes to the experience gained last year en route to finishing sixth in points.
“Last year I did the whole season with Pelfrey in the [Pro] Mazda Series and we had the speed, but sometimes didn’t have the luck or positioning as we have hoped to,” he said. “I think it’s definitely something we learned from and this year, we’ve had great luck and amazing races.”
If the Mexican driver can win the championship, he’ll be given a scholarship worth approximately $350,000 which will allow him to move up the Mazda Road to Indy ladder to run full-time in Indy Lights.
“It’s pretty much the best ladder system in the world and gives you a chance as a driver, even if you don’t have enough funding behind you,” O’Ward said. I think it’s a ladder system that gives a lot of opportunity to those without a lot of budget, and what attracted me is the opportunity that it gives you if you do well. We all know the sport isn’t cheap, very expensive so we have to keep the crashes to a minimum, get the sponsors that we can so we can continue racing, and everybody hopes for that Mazda scholarship. That’s what I’m hoping to win this year.”
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