Pato O’Ward promised he’d make sure IndyCar rival Marcus Ericsson came into the wall with him if they had a repeat of the Indianapolis 500 incident that ended with O’Ward crashing out and ruing being “too nice” to the Ganassi driver.
O’Ward was trying to repass Ericsson for second with seven laps left having being jumped by both eventual winner Josef Newgarden and Ericsson at the first of the three post-red-flag restarts of the chaotic end to the race.
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Slight contact was made as O’Ward tried to go down the inside of Ericsson and the Arrow McLaren Dallara-Chevrolet spun violently into the wall.
Ericsson’s car was undamaged and he went on to finish second after a controversial final restart.
“I just think I was a little too nice there,” said O’Ward in an NBC interview during the following red flag. “I just feel so bummed for the team.
“There were seven laps to go, I was going to be going for it.
“I was way too nice. Next time I’ll make sure that he comes with me. I was way too nice. I got onto the apron to give him room, I got squeezed. I won’t forget that one.”
The Race’s view
I love watching O’Ward as one of the most exciting drivers in IndyCar, but I’ve got to say I think he’s at fault for the incident that took him out.
His move was really late, and he wasn’t alongside Ericsson, as proven by the contact which came between Ericsson’s rear-left wheel and Pato’s front right.
Of course, Ericsson could have left more room, but the move was so late it’s hard to expect him to anticipate it and get out of the way having already committed to his line at 220+mph. Making more space at that point perhaps would have led to him crashing himself in the process.
If O’Ward was going slightly slower he should have been able to make the corner. It’s the kind of ambitious move that is remembered forever when it comes off, but has to be chalked up to being over-enthusiastic. That’s my opinion.
I wonder if O’Ward bailing out of the last-lap move on Ericsson to try to win the race at Turn 1 last year was in the back of his mind when he was considering what to do in this scenario, and he went over-aggressive as a result.
Ericsson felt the incident was nothing more than hard racing typical of the lead group in the closing stages of the Indy 500.
“It’s super-tight,” he told The Race. “You try to win this race and there are going to be situations where it’s like 50-50.
“That was a 50-50 situation. It could have ended either way.
“I think me and Pato race each other hard and fair but when you try to win this race it’s going to be elbows out, you’re going to do everything to win.
“I think it was a late move, we were down really tight and it was a 50-50 situation.
“I haven’t seen the replays or the slow-mos, I’ll have to look at that. But from inside my car it was a 50-50 situation.
“Of course you never want to see someone in the wall but that’s racing at this place.”