LEXINGTON, Ohio (WCMH) — The top three drivers in the INDYCAR series, Marcus Ericsson, Will Power and Josef Newgarden, all failed to make it out of the 1st round qualifier, leaving the door open for Pato O’Ward.
The Arrow McLaren driver, who’s 4th in the standings, took full advantage of the opportunity finishing P1 in Saturday’s qualifying at the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio.
The Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio can be seen on NBC4 at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday.
Prior to this weekend, O’Ward had never qualified higher than P15 at Mid-Ohio. Now, he has a chance to shake up the top of the standings.
“Huge opportunity and I think it just speaks to how important it is going to be to have track position around here,” O’Ward said. “In the past I have realized that the track position is huge here and I’m pumped to have one of the best views into turn one.”
The view into turn one is pretty good for Simon Pagenaud too who finished P6 for the Ohio-based Meyer Shank Racing team.
“Just driving up here gets me fired up,” said Michael Shank, co-owner of MSR and a Central Ohio native. “It’s that drive to come here all my life you just get the butterflies and you get excited. hat still happens for me.”
MSR’s other driver, Helio Castroneves, was boxed out by Team Penske’s Will Power who was penalized for the move. Castroneves will start P15.
The struggles continued for New Albany’s Graham Rahal and his teammates who all failed to make it out of the first round.
“You know it’s been challenging for us this weekend. It’s no secret, everybody sees it,” Rahal said. Throughout this entire season and this weekend is just much of the same but hopefully tomorrow we can turn it around and give the home fans something to cheer about.”