Q&A with Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet team

Pato O'Ward
Pato O'Ward

ARROW MCLAREN SP CHEVROLET DRIVERS PATO O’WARD AND OLIVER ASKEW AND MANAGING DIRECTOR TAYLOR KIEL met with members of the media and discussed racing at Iowa Speedway, the 2020 season to date and other topics. Full transcript:

MODERATOR: Today we're joined by drivers Pato , Oliver Askew and Managing Director Taylor Kiel from Arrow McLaren SP. Thank you everybody for joining today. Please raise your hand or say in the chat whether or not you have a question we'll get to as soon as we can. So I'll start off asking some intro questions from each of our individuals today, and then we'll get to the media question so first let’s start with Pato,

Q:- Pato, you secured your first podium of your IndyCar career last weekend at Road America. What did that race mean to you? And how will you build on that momentum this weekend at Iowa?

PATO O’WARD: Yeah, thanks Thomas. Yeah, I think we ended the Road America weekend very strong . Not just with the podium but I think performance-wise, we were basically leading the race though the whole way through until the last two laps. The lap cars didn't really help all help our tire situation and we just really fell back to Felix and gave him an opportunity to strike. We fought but I think we executed. Well, I think we you know, we really showed our potential and we were fighting where we were where we want to be fighting where we're supposed to be fighting. We want to win races. We want to be on the podium and at the end of this we want to be contenders in the Championship so, you know, I'm excited to carry this momentum into Iowa. Iowa has a very unique oval and its own way and I've had lots of success there in Pro Mazda and in Indy lights. So, you know, hopefully I can carry that on into IndyCar and have a good couple races this week and then get ready for August.

Q: – Great. Thank you Pato Oliver. You've had success at Iowa Speedway in the past in US 2000 in 2017 and then other short oldest as well with Gateway in Indy lights. So do you think this success will translate well to an Indy car?

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]OLIVER ASKEW: Yeah, thanks Thomas. I think it will and I know Aaron McLaren SP has had really good cars there in the past. They won a race there and finished third last year. So in the past two years so looking forward to it for sure looking forward to putting Road America behind us. I love short ovals have to like you said some success there last year in Indy Lights and felt pretty good on the oval in Texas as well. So we wish the tire stint was longer because we felt like our cars were much better than everyone else is at the end of a stint. So hopefully that's the case in Iowa as well. It's a race of a lot of tiredeg. So that's going to be important to kind of figure out as early as possible in practice Friday morning.

Q: Taylor. How will the team is past success at Iowa Speedway? Help Pato and Oliver this weekend. And what do you think the biggest challenge will be for them on their first short oval?

TAYLOR KIEL: Thanks for everybody for joining. The team's past success is just that it's in the past. Right? So we have ad good cars there before but a lots changed. We've got the aero screen now likely a different tire. A lot of different variables the weekend schedule those types of things. So we're certainly going into it Eyes Wide Open we feel like we've done a lot of good pre-event work like we have through the first few races of the year. So we're looking for more success. Certainly. I think Pato and Oliver both have had success here in the past as well. But it but it's a new challenge for all of us. I think the schedule is going to be the biggest thing for them and for everybody. But otherwise, I think it's going to be fast paced. It's not gonna be a whole lot of time to think of that and we're going to go we're going to go on there on the aggressive on the front foot and try to try to capitalize on the momentum we left Road America with.

Q: It’s just a question for Taylor. Taylor. How confident are you going into this weekend? Obviously off the back of the success and Road America, but also obviously it's a different setup with a being an oval and just how confident are you going ahead into this weekend?

KIEL: Short answer-Very. I think our team's really coming together working well. Our pit stop performance last week was the best that it's been we've continued to get to get better and better as we continue to race. We have Pato O’Ward and Oliver Askew driving our cars and that gives me a tremendous amount of confidence. We have great support from our partners and our fans. So having a limited amount of fans there will feel like we're getting back to normal a bit and certainly the momentum that we carried from Road America will help so I'm excited to get there and I'm just kind of excited to get to work.

Q: A quick follow-up to Pato same question please.

O’WARD: Yeah, I’m Taylor’s boat. I think we keep getting better and better; we keep improving. This weekend it is going to be very important to use our time efficiently to really prepare ourselves for qualifying and for the race. It's a very long race and very long stints. So more than anything we need outright speed but we need to use our heads. So I think if we make no mistakes keep everything nice and tidy I think will be will be in it at the end, you know to be able to challenge for wins and for podiums. We first have to be there at the end. So, you know, I'm very much looking forward to it Iowa. Like I said, it's an oval that I that I look very much forward to going to so yeah bring on this weekend.

Q: just quick ones Oliver as well same question.

ASKEW: Looking forward to just putting Road America behind us that's been there was a difficult weekend. I think you know the series is so tight. It doesn't allow for a small mistakes that any point through the weekend. So looking forward to executing every single time. We're on track and like Pato said it's important to really good on a window to make sure that we're the quickest at the end of the stint, quicker than anybody else at the end of the stint. So I'm looking forward to just going out and having fun. Like Taylor said the pit crews been working flawlessly through adversity no matter what happens, you know, they're not making any mistake so that builds confidence in both Pato and myself, and you know, the guys are going to give us great strategies as well. So look forward to it as look this weekend guys. Thank you.

Q: I have a question for Pato – Pato first of all congrats on your Podium and on your pole. Awesome job, and I want to say one thing really stuck out with me and I was impressed when after race one at Road America. You said that we definitely have the car to be upfront and I want to say so you seemed to be really in tune with your car and there's some drivers that aren't as in tune as you are or on. I'm wondering where are you getting this confidence? Are you spending more time? Like in the garage with the mechanics with the strategists or what are you doing differently?

Oliver Askew
Oliver Askew

O’WARD: Yeah, thank you. I just think I have a lot of faith in my team Arrow McLaren SP. We have a great group of engineers and in the car has felt good everywhere we’ve been. Obviously Texas was new to me. So I kind of had to be cautious and we didn't want to have a tiny hiccup in qualifying that could really put us in a bad position for the race, so I had to be in a different mindset like going to a road course, you know road courses that I know, we've been very strong in practice and in qualifying which has it never everything never really went perfectly until all fine-tuning at Road America and we put it on the pole. So I've always known the speed is there I know the guys will always give me the tools to be able to be fighting up front. So I think was just getting everything together and to execute. In race one. we had a little issue with it something mechanically in the race one at Road America. So, you know, it is not the same whenever you start mid packed and when you start up front, you know, you make your life way easier when you start up front and I was tired of starting in the middle. I wanted to start up front and I wanted to run up there. So I pulled a good lap out and put it on the pole and you know, we started the race and I think we control the pace the whole way through, you know, until two laps to go but you know, I just I have lots of faith in the team and I know they are all pushing the same as I am and we're also hungry for wins and for podiums and I think that's what's most important here is just that everybody is rowing towards the same way and pushing, you know with the same amount of energy and motivation. So I think that's so important and to win these IndyCar races you have to execute perfectly because if you don't then you just won't win it because it's so tight. But yeah, I'm very much looking forward to the rest of the season and I just I want to continue improving and getting better and better and better and I know the chemistry with the engineers is just going to improve every single race with

Q: Taylor just wondered about the kind of I guess you've had time to reflect on Road America now and crunch some of the numbers and go through things. So I just wondered you know with the last stint love with the last stop you went for the for the Reds. And you know, would you have done anything differently, they're you know going back with hindsight. Obviously all of us would love to have the knowledge of what to do before the race happens, but just kind of assessing things now and looking back. Would you have done anything differently there or do you think you made the right call? And you know, it's just important so it worked out then.

KIEL: Yeah. Thanks Jack. Like we do every event our engineering team and our leadership team dig into the good the bad the ugly what we found is that we're very confident that was the right call for us in the moment. We did not have Felix's pace on primary tires. We knew that we saw that in the previous two stints. Frankly, the reason we were able to maintain our gap was the pit sequence on our end was so much better than theirs both the in and out laps on the Pato’s side and then the actual pit stop itself. So we were able to continue to maintain that gap to Felix but we felt that our car was better on alternate tires, and we felt to give ourselves a fighting chance we needed to have a really mega out lap and to do that was going to be on the red tires from there hopefully we could pull a gap over the first few laps and then just hold on tight and make it to the end. So, you know hindsight is 20/20. We've looked at it a hundred different ways and I think that a hundred different times we would do the same thing.

Q: Pato Obviously last year was it up and down for you? And you know, I'm sure you'll pick out some strong positives and some downsides as well. Just how important is it been having Arrow McLaren behind you, you know to start the season and have that kind of support from them because I guess they kind of questions surrounds, you know, last year was so unusual for you and you were jumping around teams and going to different countries and doing so many different things and obviously a bit of consistency to start the season. So how was that been as the team support been?

O’WARD: Yeah, thanks, man. I think one of the biggest things in success is having your team supporting you and having people behind you, you know pushing for the same objectives that you want to achieve. You know, last year was it was just so up and down it was a huge learning year, but more than anything is that it really makes a difference when you know, the guy when you know the car when you know, what's coming for you but whenever everything is a blur and also letting you get a call and you have to meet new people new car new team owner. You have no testing. No nothing, you know, it's so much harder and this year with you know, with a proper schedule Proper testing and really lots of time to be able to interact with Engineers, you know, make the chemistry and create relationships and make them, you know stronger and stronger every day. I think that makes a huge difference, especially when the weekends are so condensed as they've been. Will and I are still learning from each other. We're still working on how I like things, you know, he has an idea of how I drive now, which is completely different to what James want, you know in the past. So it's definitely a learning curve in its own but I think we've been very efficient. We've been you know, very hands-on and in trying to really come out strong out of the gate and I think we have so that's going to continue being our focus and you know the better we get at that and then the better shots were going to have a qualifying and then, you know having a strong race.

Q: Good morning Taylor. We talked before the season started and you mentioned, you know wanting to join the big three teams, right? But make it big four. Have you taken a step towards that so far in the first four races?

KIEL: I think you know relative to that group. All we can do is focus on ourselves and what we're doing day-to-day and I believe that day to day we were making progress. There's so much work so much effort going on behind the scenes with our group McLaren, Arrow, Chevy really working to push our package to the next level and we're doing that and I think that Road America finally gave us a little bit of result to prove that. But the speeds been there all year long. We just haven't been able to put the total package together. So now we've seen it. We've done it. We've seen it. We know how it's done and we can build off of that and continue to put those results together in a consistent manner. That's what's going to get us there. We see a lot of people struggling through the first handful of races this year. So for us, it's all about consistency and closing that gap and I think we're on our way.

Q: You've obviously had good pit stops and a couple other teams have struggled. A couple that you wouldn't expect a struggle. What did you guys do? I know you've always been good at pit stops. Did you change anything in the offseason? You know, I know it's obviously hard, you know to get going late. You didn't get the practice probably you needed. How do you explain your guys pit stops?

KIEL: It's simple Steve. It's the buy-in from the guys and girls on the team and working out everyday eating right drinking water doing the things that you need to do to show up at these events and a condensed with hundred degree ambient temperatures and being able to perform on the pressures on. We give our pit crews all the tools they need to succeed and with that were able to look them in the eye and say hey now it's on you to perform and they all do they do it everybody takes a lot of pride in it and everybody works really hard. Even when there's when there's no time in the schedule. We make time for pitstop practice. We make time for physical and mental wellness. And we do the things we need to do to make sure that our groups are ready to perform when the lights are on.

Q: For the drivers along the same line, you've obviously got these guys working so hard on the pit stops how much confidence extra confidence is that bring you guys as drivers knowing you're going to come into the pits and it's going to be as quick as stop as possible. They're going to get everything right as much as they can.

O’WARD: Yeah, I think it's huge not just for us but you know for everybody just works in sync. I think that's very important especially in IndyCar races. The driver has to hit its marks in and out laps have to be perfect and then you know the guys in the pit stops have to do have to do their part. So the driver can get some help either if it's an over cut and undercut or just maintaining lead. So I think you know from our side. It's In a way not a relief, but you know, we have so much faith in them and we know that you know, they are pushing as much as we are to get everything perfectly and you know, like it is in many forms of motor sports, you know, you win and lose as a team, but you know pit stops are so important and the guys have been flawless and I have lots of respect.

After I actually tried changing a tire and in like Oliver was driving the car and he was actually coming into the box and I thought that was the most terrifying thing. I'd ever seen and to like change it on that speed like those tires are so heavy man. Like they are so heavy in these guys lift it up like it's a feather and I think that's just it's an art in its own and I don't think there's I don't think people appreciate it as much as they should because it's truly something. And as important as the driver, you know driving on the track. So, you know that the guys really work hard in and I can't thank him enough for that.

ASKEW: Thank you. I echo what Pato said it's just it's one more thing that I get to take off of my mind when I go into a race weekend knowing that we're going to be strong in the pits. You know my crew. They think they've won the pit stop challenge Taylor you can you can chime in on this, but they won last year. Right. They won last year at the pit stop challenge. So I know that you know that. My crew is going to be the most consistent at track and that just builds confidence in myself. You know, that's just one less thing to worry about going into the weekend and the more practice. I get coming into the box, you know going to the pit lane pushing the pit lane push in the box, you know, the less I have to think about it. So yeah, just echoing on what Pato a huge confidence boost and I think that's one of the many strengths that this team has is the work that we've done in the middle.

Q: Hi guys. Thanks for taking the time. I got a question for both Plateau. When all over Zac Brown said a few days ago to these willing to give you a running an F1 car when the time in the opportunity is right, and I know Pato you have recently had the taste of some open-wheel action outside of the US, but for both of you your career has been largely focused on American open-wheel, so there's wonder if you can please elaborate on where the prospect of F1 is on your radar if at all?

O’WARD: Thanks, man. You know for me is you know, my job in front of me right now is to succeed and win races try to win championships, you know, and try to win the Indy 500 those are my goals right now and I'm fully focused on that, you know, obviously in the future if something comes up in Formula One and opportunities there, you know, we will see what I'm going through at that time. But you know for now I'm fully focused on our Mclaren SP giving them results giving them championships and you know giving them race wins. I think they really deserve it. You know, it's such a hard working group of guys and girls and you know, and I love IndyCar. I love IndyCar racing. But you know, like I said, obviously if a test comes up or something, you know, if the time is there, you know, I would for sure I would for sure consider doing it because you know, I think those cars are spectacular.

ASKEW: Right now like am full focus on what I'm doing here, you know, I'm not going to get the opportunity to experience something like that. You know, if I don't perform in my current space. Yeah right now just focus on the task at hand and obviously McLaren is done very well for the past couple seasons and especially this year in Formula One, so they're definitely a growing force and I think you know when the when the new regulations come out they're going to be stronger, so it's fun. It's fun following them and their success in being a part of that family now, but like Papa said it's the most important thing for us now is to do our job and then the present moment.

Q: My first question for Taylor. I you mentioned that the schedules being may be the biggest challenge this weekend. Just you know at this point of maybe just past halfway of five races and 15 days is that would have what's the schedule been like and consecutive double headers? And you know, how is it stressed your team?

KIEL: It's been intense. I think that's kind of the general word. We've been using just intensity from the moment that you step in the car or the plane to go to the track until the moment The Checkered Flag waves. You don't have a whole lot of time to think it's very fast-paced. The amount of time between sessions is reduced dramatically compared to what we're used to so how that's changed us is the pre-event work. It's always been a priority for us. It is absolute necessity now. If we unload or the package, that's not quick. You're not going to get any better by the time the race shows up, right? So it's the precedence is on making sure that you unload quickly. So all of your simulation work to pre event stuff that is an absolute priority. So that's something that we've really I feel have done a good job. So that's been a plus. The physical fitness have everybody on the team is a big thing. You don't consider when you're when you're watching on TV and you're seeing the cars go around but there's a whole team of people that have to make that happen and they're standing outside for 12 13 14 15 hour days. sometimes when ambient temperatures in the middle of the summer in the Midwest are a hundred degrees Fahrenheit, right? So it's it takes a lot from everybody. So pre-event work, team chemistry the work ethic and the discipline and the toughness of everybody in the paddock and then likewise we haven't even mentioned Covid-19 and the pandemic and everything that's going on and associated with that requires its own set of challenges with masks and protocols and those types of things. So really comes down to the guys and girls and the IndyCar Paddock taking care of each other and working hard through this tough stretch. I think the ultimate goal here is to get through these races to race for ourselves and our fans and our partners and do the best that we can so that we can we can continue to keep our product on track and in front of in front of all our loyal IndyCar fans. So that's the goal.

Q: Just to follow up on that last part Taylor with its team footage is point about how teams have been made. Some errors on pit stops, you would expect to see from talking to some people. It sounds like routines have sort of been disrupted by the protocols and restrictions that track and then also you don't have the routines of the schedule. Like normally the month of May is given to be a lot of repetition. Do you have any thoughts on that and like how your team is maybe been able to avoid those kind of errors that we've seen in some other teams made?

Taylor Kiel
Taylor Kiel

KIEL: Well routines definitely disrupted. It's something that you can't hide from what the schedule the way it is and Shop base protocols being what they are. I mean a lot of teams have now changed out ways of working completely back at base. Right? So it doesn't just begin and end in the paddock. It's different from every facet of the operation for us. It's really all about prioritizing it. That's what it boils down to you can in the time find any number of ways to fill your time and the amount of time you have to prepare for a race event, but we feel that it stops are just as important. As our previous simulation work or our car builds or anything that we're doing from an RD perspective. So we prioritize it make time for it. That's really that's really what we've done to make sure that what we can control is under our control

Q: One for the drivers is Taylor just mentioned that the Midwest summertime temperatures. I'm sure 250 Laps on consecutive nights at Iowa. Speedway will be a little bit different and I know green flag temperatures for Saturday or like 90 degrees so I know both you guys are physically fit but are any concerns going into that kind of grueling Marathon session over the weekend at Iowa, I guess starting with Pato.

O’WARD: Yeah, yeah, thanks man. I think we're in for a treat this weekend because it's going to be hot and it's just not one race. It's two races. So the recovery after the first race is going to be key. It's going to be very important to be nice and fresh for Saturday. You don't even if they're at night the humidity and the heat is still there. So I think you know, we're all kind of going into it like well, you know, we're going to get thrown in there and you have to survive it's not like oh, you know you can give up no not you have to survive. So I think we're just we're going in it as prepared as possible. Just very hydrated. Make sure your food is very clean and everything and then, you know, just, you know, hang on to it for the whole race because it is going to be a long one.

ASKEW: Yeah, thanks for the question. I think being worried about it is the biggest part of preparation, you know. For me this is going to be the hardest race of the year so far because it's a doubleheader because the track is so short. There's not much time to rest because it's going to be hot because it's bumpy. So there's a lot of a lot of variables being thrown at us a lot of different variables every single weekend for the past three weekends that we've been on been on. Both Pato and I have been have been training as best as we can and we've been hydrating as best as we can trying to recover from the last wwekend at Road America and I think it's going to be very difficult at the end of the stints and the tires are going away and you're in you're mentally drained and super hot. So you need to have this voice the back of your head to remind yourself to not make any crucial mistakes or really pay attention to what's going on because very easy to lose that you lose the car in that state of mind. So the looking for of the challenge for sure. It's going to be difficult for everybody. We've got to be more prepared.

Q: I need to some details about of the race after read the race oad America battle from the radio the car will be on front tomorrow. Could you tell some more details about that attitude and how can them to expand it this attitude to the team to be the same level?Of course to be an on a Podium and the question for the drivers part of you wat two years ago, and now we'll have a you have a reference from that the victory two years ago Oliver the reference its faculties Wicked on double-header. Thank you so much.

KIEL: This is something that we talk a lot about as a team is a winning mentality is you know being aggressive in taking what's yours? We all work very hard. I don't know what the other teams do. I'm sure they work hard too, but we work really hard to make sure that we build a team in a package that can compete for ones and championships week in and week out.

What Pato was saying from the car at that moment was I know that we have that we just didn't execute today. We're going to do it tomorrow because we have another chance and we did just right. So if that doesn't give you confidence as a crew member or as a member of this team, generally then you're probably in the wrong place. We take a lot of pride in that. We do a lot of work beforehand in the moment and post analysis to see that a man we do have a good car and we didn't execute or we had a good car and we did execute we can see that we have data to prove it. So the entire time even first qualifying we had a we had a small mechanical issue that probably left us off of the front row, you know, frankly, or at least more towards the front when you start that far back in a race like Road America with such small windows and limited strategy plays you're handcuffed. So we knew what we are up against them race one and we knew we had an opportunity to qualify and redo that scenario again and we made the most of it and Pato certainly has that mentality to just go and attack and take what's his so as a group if that doesn't give you confidence and then I don't know what will.

O’WARD: Yeah, thanks Louise. Yeah, I think you know, I've had very good memories at from Iowa and I'm looking forward to you know, just to continue the momentum with you know, with a group of guys that I have, you know supporting me and I know that you know, we will have the tools to be competitive. So I think it's just to you know to finalize everything in to really have something, you know, very fast. And that last long I think that's going to be very important. But I'm looking forward to trying to continue my set my success in Iowa. It's a it's an it's an oval that I enjoy. So yeah, I'm excited for the weekend.

ASKEW: Yeah, I think that Pato has been a great reference for me for the past for the past couple race weekends. Even pre-season testing. I think we work together really. Well. I don't I don't expect I don't expect to you know, take too much time to get up to speed in Iowa. I think it's important with the condensed weekends to you know, really like light the match and be at the speed right away. So that's going to be my main focus for tomorrow. It's crazy to say that we're already racing tomorrow. But yeah, it's going to be a challenge for sure. But you know addicts have had some success at Iowa and us have two thousand four years ago. That's obviously completely different. It's going to be a different track that completely different car. So looking forward to the challenge.

Leave a Reply