O’Ward turned down 8-race deal with Andretti, he says no (2nd Update)

Pato O’Ward must be crazy. 8 races with Andretti and he turned it down?
Pato O’Ward wants nothing to do with Mike Harding

UPDATE Robin Miller/Racer reports – "Yes it’s true that Michael intervened and reportedly offered eight races, but Pato evidently declined because Mike Harding would have still been involved. We don’t know all the behind-the-scenes stuff between O’Ward and Harding and nobody is allowed to discuss it after their settlement, but my take is that he feels cheated and wants nothing to do with Harding.

"Having said that, going with Andretti for eight races would have given Pato his best shot, and there’s nothing out there to compare with it. But, again, we don’t know the contractual ramifications of what the lawyers decided, and obviously, the O’Ward group feels very strongly about severing its ties with Harding. I don’t blame O’Ward for feeling his IndyCar career got derailed, and you can’t blame Michael for being angry for trying to help his Lights champion."

02/14/19 IndyCar refugee Patricio O'Ward has said he did not turn down Michael Andretti's eight-race deal to race for Andretti Autosport.

Andretti confirmed to AutoWeek earlier this week he had made the offer to the young Mexican, but it was turned down due to O'Ward seeking a full-time ride.

That came off the back of O’Ward leaving Harding Steinbrenner Racing, having initially intended to compete in the 2019 season with the nascent operation.

The 19-year old won the Indy Lights championship with the Andretti Autosport outfit; this came with the prize of a $1m scholarship which is meant to pay for a minimum of four races, including the Indianapolis 500, the following season.

Andretti's offer would have extended beyond the reach of his scholarship prize, which could potentially have meant the 1991 CART champion would have run the Mexican at a loss to his own team.

However, O'Ward believes Andretti's IndyCar offer was not a priority to take up and admits he is still seeking alternative options up and down the paddock for 2019.

"I've always been grateful to Michael Andretti and his team," O'Ward told IndyCar.com.

"Honestly, I never thought we would end up in this situation. I have a lot of respect for him and I'll always be grateful for what he helped me with last year in Indy Lights.

"The truth of the matter is that I can't talk about what happened with me and Harding and my release, and Michael knows the situation that I'm in. I had to sign a confidentiality settlement agreement in order to get released.

"Michael knows all the facts because we spoke on the phone many times last Friday, and it sucks that I can't talk about it, but we both know the truth.

"There are reasons why (the Andretti ride) wasn't the priority offer to take. I wanted to see what options I had, but I never did. I never said no to Michael's eight-race offer. Unfortunately, this whole thing has left me without a ride, but I won't give up in trying to find something."

"It's important to have a good chance, I just don't want to go and drive. I want to race."

02/12/19 IndyCar team owner Michael Andretti told Autoweek that he offered Pato O’Ward an 8-race deal with Andretti Autosport to compete in the NTT IndyCar Series, but it was turned down. Andretti revealed that to Autoweek after Tuesday’s “Spring Training" preseason open test at Circuit of the Americas.

“I offered him a ride in one of our cars for eight races this year and he turned it down. He wanted a full season," Andretti said. “He had a pretty good offer on the table, and he turned it down. I offered that to him this past weekend.

“I don’t know what he is going to do, now. Maybe he has something else."

O’Ward, the 2018 Indy Lights Series champion, was set to be part of a two-car team at Harding Steinbrenner Racing along with 18-year-old Colton Herta, his Indy Lights teammate at Andretti Autosport last season. But on Monday, O’Ward announced that he was leaving the team effective immediately.

Harding Steinbrenner Racing president Brian Barnhart said the team was unable to find the additional sponsorship needed to fund a two-car operation. That is the reason why O’Ward left the team, because the 19-year-old driver from Mexico is determined to find a full-season ride.

Andretti, however, believes it may be too late for that to happen.

“It’s always dependent on cars and money," Andretti said. “He had an opportunity and decided he thought he could do something better with someone else.

“Good luck. Maybe he’ll find it.

“I spent a lot of time on the phone with him trying to convince him to do it and he dug in that he had to do a full season. I told him I can’t do that. I wish I could offer it to him, but I couldn’t." Bruce Martin/AutoWeek

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