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.

THE LEFT TURN

NASCAR at Bristol preview

Matt Sullivan/Getty Images


This week NASCAR heads to Bristol Motor Speedway for the Bass Pro Shops Night race. With the playoffs approaching this is definitely one of the wildcard races that can truly make or break a driver's chances of getting into the playoffs. Nicknamed the last great colosseum, Bristol Motor speedway is one of NASCAR's most iconic race tracks on the schedule as it's close quarters racing has always been a big hit among fans. The track is an half-mile oval with 22 degrees of banking like you would see at a much bigger racetrack. While the track has been widened over the years, it is still common practice to see drivers use their bumpers to knock someone out of the way. It should be must-see TV come Saturday night.

Last week, Kevin Harvick was able to rebound after a flat tire and win Michigan. This was the second time in two years that Harvick was able to win Michigan's fall race as he was able to save just enough fuel to get his Mobile one Mustang to victory lane. The race was fairly tame compared to what we have seen over the past two months but it was still a fairly intriguing event. Like we usually see at this track, fuel strategy was the deciding factor in who finished were. In the closing laps, both Penske teammates Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano ran out of fuel as they ran second and third eliminating them from victory. Some of the good stories we saw out of last week's race was how great of a run Ryan Preece had as he was able to claim an impressive seventh place finish. This is the rookie's third top ten of the season as he was able to drive all the way up from 29th to finish where he did. Overall, this has been a difficult season for him but if he can continue to improve like he did last week at Michigan, he should have a bright future in this sport.

It appears as if NASCAR's famed "silly season" is upon as drivers look to secure a ride for next year. The first domino to fall is Matt DiBendetto as it was announced that he will not be returning to the #95 Toyota for Leavine Family Racing. This comes as a bit of a surprise considering how well he has done in this car. This season he has four top 10 finishes and two top fives and was definitely gaining ground so it is sad to see a good driver lose his ride. The driver that will move up and take his place appears to be rookie driver Christopher Bell. While he has remained quiet about what he will be doing next season, it would be safe to assume that he will be next in line to drive this car considering car owner Bob Leavine's relationship with Joe Gibbs. As much as I hate to see Matt lost his place, I think that it is a far cry to say Bell doesn't deserve to be Cup racing. This young driver has been lighting it up in the Xfinity series and I think he will translate well in 2020. As far as it goes for DiBenedetto, he isn't without options. With Toyota's newest crop of young drivers such as Harrison Burton and Todd Gilliand being a few years from being ready to be in the cup series, it wouldn't be a bad idea for Matt to scale down into the Xfinity series for a year or two driving for Gibbs. I think this could help his career as here he will be able to compete for a championship besides you never know what other opportunities could arise in the not to distant future.

Coming into Bristol, the driver that I have winning is Kyle Larson. In interviews and on social media, Larson has called this track his favorite and it makes a lot of sense considering how good his results have been. Larson currently has an average finish here of 7.50, the third highest amongst active drivers.This track almost perfectly complements his driving style considering the best line to run around here is the outside and if you have watched him race, you can tell that's his preferred line. This track also being a short-track really plays a lot into why he has been so good here as well considering he has been racing at tracks just like them around the country when he races his dirt car. Over the years, he has always been close here but this week I think he gets it done and gets his first win of 2019.

(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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