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.

NASCAR heads to Michigan for the FireKeepers 400

FireKeepers Casino 400 preview

Matt Sullivan/Getty Images


This week, NASCAR heads to Michigan for the FireKeepers 400. This is one of the biggest tracks on the circuit as it is exactly two miles in length and has wide 18 degree banking in the corners making it one of the fastest tracks on the circuit. With the track being as wide as it is, we should be able to see a lot of green flag runs that could very well bring for more pit road strategy.

Like last week at Pocono, it will be crucial for these drivers to make no mistakes in pit road if they want any chance at victory.

Of course the main point of intrigue this week is how these cars will respond to NASCAR's new rules package. It seems like every week, there is always a question about how these cars are going to run. Overall, it would appear that no one has any idea what's going to happen this week. We very well could see a big pack of cars that run together in a draft or we could see the field get spread out like we have been seeing at tracks like this. As important as this rules package is, many drivers and fans are growing tired of talking about it. When last week's winner Kyle Busch was asked how he would rate it, he responded by saying "STOP ASKING ME PACKAGE QUESTIONS! I'M DONE ANSWERING THEM!"

While many people didn't appreciate his attitude towards the question, I think that he is right for the most part about how difficult it is to race under these new guidelines on tracks like Pocono. Last week's race was not good as there was no passing. Kyle Busch lead a good majority of the laps and when it was all said and done the whole field was two or three seconds apart. Now in a 36 race season, I understand that there are going to be races like this, it has been like that since the sport began but NASCAR has continued to talk about how much closer the racing would be under these new rules and a lot of the time most people have been disappointed. It will be interesting to see how it works this week at a similar track in Michigan.

The driver that I have winning this week is Kevin Harvick. While it may sound like I am picking a favorite here, This season has been somewhat of a disappointment for these guys. While they are fifth in the standings and are doing a good job of collecting points, he has yet to win a race this season. While they have had the speed and have been able to run around the top five, they just have not been able to seal the deal. In his five years with Stewart-Haas Racing, this is the longest Harvick has gone without a win. By anyone else's standards, they would kill to have a season like this but for Harvick, I know that he is not happy with where they are right now so I look for them to come to Michigan and finally get their first win of 2019.

Another driver I see doing well this week is Austin Dillion. Despite his issues in the past couple of weeks at Charlotte and Pocono, he has shown good speed this season as he has been able to run around the top 15. Now if you look at the stat sheet, it would tell you that Dillion has struggled here but over the last couple of races at the track, he has steadily improved. In last year's Fall race here, he was able to finish fourth in one of his better races of 2018. It should be a bounce back week for Dillion as he looks to get back in the hunt to make the playoffs.

(All stats and information used in this article is brought to you by the good folks at driveraverages.com and Racing-Reference.com the best website for all NASCAR stats).

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