O’Ward slams ‘stupid’ Jones for first lap spin

Pato O’Ward fell to third at the season’s end. Picture: Chris Jones

Pato O’Ward was left fuming after Ed Jones put paid to the 22-year-old’s hopes of winning his first IndyCar Series title at Long Beach.

An incident on the opening lap saw the Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan driver tag the rear of O’Ward at the hairpin.

That sent the McLaren SP pilot into a spin, falling from the fringe of the top five to last in a matter of seconds.

O’Ward’s efforts to recover were ultimately to no avail as he suffered a broken driveshaft on Lap 18, bringing him to a halt at the pit exit.

He later returned to the race, but retired after 43 laps of the Long Beach street course.

O’Ward was left to watch on from the sidelines as Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou cruised to fourth place, and with it, winning his first IndyCar Series crown.

“It’s not the first time he’s hit us,” said O’Ward.

“It’s not the first time he does something stupid all season. I just wish he could use his head a little bit more, at least respect guys who are fighting for the championship.

“I don’t know what else to say. That corner is kind of just… respect the guys in front and then maybe you get a run. I’m not telling him not to race me but don’t be stupid about it.”

It ended what was a breakout season for the Mexican, who claimed two wins and a further three podiums on his way to third in the standings.

The incident and his DNF ultimately meant he was leapfrogged for second in the standings, Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden taking that spot after finishing second in the season finale.

Nevertheless, O’Ward was proud of McLaren SP and his own efforts.

“I think we’ve had a great season,” said O’Ward.

“I’m proud of the team, I’m proud of myself. Obviously, it wasn’t the perfect season, but I think that’s just how it’s going to be.

“You have to learn from the little mistakes you might have made. I feel like that gets you stronger.

“I’m looking forward to next year. I think we have a great baseline to start off from and see if we can get some more wins and challenge for another title.”

O’Ward will once again be team-mates with Felix Rosenqvist at McLaren SP next year.

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