O’Ward ‘not going to apologise’ for Dixon crash
Monday 17th April, 2023 - 11:48am
Pato O’Ward will not apologise to Scott Dixon over their clash which put the latter into the wall in the Long Beach IndyCar race.
The McLaren driver made a bid for sixth position when he went underneath the Chip Ganassi Racing entry at Turn 8 on Lap 20, precipitating wheel-to-wheel contact which sent Car #9 off-course and into the tyre barriers.
While his outside wheels were inside the outside edge of the kerbing, he escaped punishment for the incident, much to the chagrin of Dixon.
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The New Zealander would press on once his Honda-powered Dallara was pulled out of the tyre barrier, and even took the restart on the lead lap, before retiring with a mechanical issue which Ganassi attributed to the incident with Car #5.
O’Ward was asked on the NBC Sports telecast, which is carried in Australia by Stan Sport, if he would talk to Dixon about the matter.
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The Mexican responded, “I’m sure I’ll circle back with him, either this weekend or the next one, but I’m not going to apologise for that.
“We’re racing, so a lot of the times when I’ve been in that situation, I kind of just let the guy go, because if you’re on the outside, you’re more vulnerable to those things happening.”
O’Ward did nevertheless have reason to express sorrow, including in a perhaps sarcastic fashion to Dixon.
In an ironic twist, he had another lunge at Turn 8 on the restart lap following the Caution caused by the incident with the six-time champion.
On that occasion, he succeeded only in spinning himself when he clamped on the brakes to avoid completely unloading eventual race winner Kyle Kirkwood, who was able to press on despite what contact Car #27 did incur.
On the Dixon clash, O’Ward reasoned, “I was on the inside, he decided to stay on the outside, and, well, I’m pretty much alongside him, nose in front of his or at least alongside his, so I don’t know what to say.
“I mean, I’ve been racing Scott for a few years; if he feels like that was my fault, well, sorry you feel that way but I don’t agree.
“The other issue that I had in Turn 8, completely my fault.
“I feel bad I let my team down, I let [down] the amazing crowd that came out today.
“By the time that I kind of remembered to stop the car, it was already too late and I just kind of squeezed myself.
“I didn’t want to take out Kirkwood so I kind of just slammed on the brakes, locked the rears, and just spun.
“But, it’s been definitely a weekend not to forget – I think there’s been a lot of positives that we can take out of this weekend – but obviously just disappointed in myself.
“I don’t have to be making those stupid moves. Just not up to the level that I expect of myself.”
The four-time IndyCar race winner had led the series after second place finishes in each of the first two encounters of 2023, but has now dropped back to second on the points table, 15 points behind Marcus Ericsson, after being classified 17th at Long Beach.
The Indianapolis 500 Open Test takes place this Thursday and Friday before competitive action resumes at Barber Motorsports Park on the weekend of April 28-30 (local time).
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