COTA Hosts Big Race

5 questions with driver Patricio O'Ward leading in to the Austin IndyCar Classic

Today, I got to talk to one of the rising stars of Indycar, Mexico and Texas Native Patricio O'Ward. This young man has been extremely impressive, last season in his debut in Sonoma as he was able to finish in the top ten with a ninth place effort. I was lucky enough to talk to this young phenom about this weekend's race in Austin as well as some of the other tracks on the schedule including the Indy 500.

Q: So it's a new season with a new team at Carlin racing. First and foremost how is everything going?

O'Ward: It's going fairly well so far. We got to test in Alabama at Barbara Motorsports Park last week, so that was the first test day I got to do in the car and everything felt pretty good so we are excited for this weekend. I know the expectations are really high with this being kind of a home Grand Prix for me so it's definitely going to be an eventful one but I am certainly looking forward to it.

Q: Last year at Sonoma we saw you go out have an outstanding qualifying effort and an equally impressive finish, does any bit of your experience from this track kind of translate over to Circuit of the Americas even though they are vastly different race tracks?

O'Ward: I guess the experience is definitely going to help. Every track is different, Austin is very difficult because it has a little bit of everything so it's hard to get everything perfect. It's all a little bit green to me but, I think we will be OK. the team wants to win, I wanna win so that's usually a good formula to start with.

Q: Overall at COTA, is there any part of the racetrack that fans should watch out for? If so which part would that be?

O'Ward: I think Turn 12 is definitely going to be a very big passing zone because that's the hardest breaking zone in the circuit. Maybe up into turn 1 where cars are coming out of the pits and other cars are on track, but I think the heavy breaking zones are definitely the places to watch, that is where you will see the most passing I think.

Q: Is there any race in the future that you would like to race that might not just be indycar?

O'Ward: Being A race-car driver, I would love to experience new things so doing well in the IndyCar and winning the Indy 500, and then try and win some of the other prestigious races like the 24 hours of Le Mans, maybe the Monaco Grand Prix in F1. Just some of the races that not so many people get to do would make it all the much more special.

Q: Speaking of the Indy 500, you will be making your debut in this race; do you have any expectations or goals for this race?

O'ward: I think in that race, it's important to keep everything clean because a lot of the time, it comes down to luck. If you have some pace and there is luck on your side with yellow's you can come out winning the thing, so I think just having a good clean race is going to be the key.

You can hear the whole interview above.

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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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