CHEVROLET NTT INDYCAR SERIES-MID-OHIO: ARROW MCLAREN SP TEAM ZOOM TRANSCRIPT

CHEVROLET RACING IN NTT INDYCAR SERIES
HONDA INDY 200 AT MID-OHIO
MID-OHIO SPORTS CAR COURSE IN LEXINGTON, OHIO
ARROW MCLAREN SP TEAM ZOOM CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
JULY 2, 2021

ARROW MCLAREN SP CHEVROLET TEAM HOSTED A ZOOM CONFERENCE FOR MEDIA WITH DRIVERS FELIX ROSENQVIST, NO. 7 VUSE ARROW MCLAREN SP CHEVROLET, AND PATO O’WARD, NO.5 ARROW MCLAREN SP CHEVROLET AND TEAM PRESIDENT TAYLOR KIEL. FULL TRANSCRIPT:

MODERATOR: FELIX TALK ABOUT GETTING BACK IN THE CAR WITH YOUR TEAM AT MID-OHIO.
FELIX ROSENQVIST: I am just really pumped to be back. I feel fine to drive. The whole team is ready to have a good second part of the season and try to get some momentum. Good to be back.”

MODERATOR: PATO HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO YOU TO HAVE A GOOD RESULT THIS WEEKEND AND SCORE SOME CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS HEADING INTO A LONG BREAK?
PATO O’WARD: It is going to be very important I think. We’ve had a good, strong start to the first half of the season. There has been certain weekends where I don’t think we maximized, and we can’t have any of those. We are in the championship fight with Ganassi cars, (Scott) Dixon and (Alex) Palou who have been extremely strong everywhere we go. Like I’ve said to the team, there is a time to push it and it’s now. We need to stay on top of it because every point is going to be gold between now and Long Beach. We just need to try and out score them every weekend.

MODERATOR: TAYLOR, HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO HAVE A BREAK TO GET THE TEAM RECHARGE AND REFOCUS GOING INTO THE PUSH AT THE END OF THE SEASON?
TAYLOR KIEL: It can serve two purposes. The break, if you have a lot of momentum and you are operating well and running well, you just want to keep going. But I think it is certainly good for everyone to have a mental break. What we ask everybody to do every day in motorsport is very stressful, so any time away I think is good and it gives everybody a chance to recharge the batteries. We are obviously at the mid-point of the season and this is where as Pato mentioned where we really need to take it to another level. We’ll take the break coming up after Mid-Ohio to recharge the batteries and hone in on some of the focus areas so we can finish the year strong.

OPEN FOR QUESTIONS FOR THE MEDIA:
FELIX, CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE STRUGGLES YOU HAD DURING THE WEEK FOLLOWING THE ACCIDENT IN DETROIT?
ROSENQVIST: The reason I didn’t get cleared, INDYCAR didn’t clear me is because the concussion test, which doesn’t really mean I had a concussion, there was some indication that something could be wrong and they didn’t want to take the risk which I fully understand. Obviously it was frustrating when you feel fine but it was just whatever they say goes. It’s something you can’t really change. None of this is something I can change. You just have to accept it and look forward. I don’t really feel like I have had massive issues mentally to go through because there is nothing I can change. I think it is like always if you make a big mistake and put yourself in that situation, its different. Things are just the way they are and I try in general to never dwell on things that happen. They can’t change. We’re back now and we just have to continue where we left off because at the time the incident we were really in a good place and on our way to turn around the season a little bit. We will try to get a good result at Mid-Ohio.

PATO, ON THE TV BROADCAST, WE’VE SEEN HOW STOIC AND CALM TAYLOR IS. WHAT IS A SIDE OF HIM WE HAVEN’T SEEN?:
O’WARD: He loosens up He loosens up. He is a fun guy to have around. I think what I feel like is really nice. This kind of goes toward the whole team, but specifically with the big guys. I feel like whenever I’m around either Taylor, Sam (Schmidt), Rick (Peterson) and Zak (Brown) they are the bosses but it is like having a best friend. And, you can talk to them like a best friend. I don’t know if you get where I am trying to go with that. It’s just really nice. I’m really happy where I’m at. Taylor is a fun guy, he can sound like he’s very serious all the time. He is very professional. Unlike myself, sometimes I can be very loud and obnoxious. Taylor can control himself a little bit more.

WHAT MAKES MID-OHIO SUCH A SPECIAL TRACK FOR YOU FELIX? YOU’VE ALMOST WON THERE:
ROSENQVIST: It’s a good question. We did a track walk yesterday and its just something with this track. I feel I’m always…there is good energy when you are here. It is a beautiful place. There are always a lot of people here and I feel like the fans are the right kind of fans. They are really diehard hard-core fans that come here to Mid-Ohio. They will spend the whole day in the sun. I just think somehow it is a special event. And the track is amazing. When you walk the track, you think you can’t pass here because it is so tight and twisty. But then it always produces some pretty good racing. The race format is pretty good and interesting with strategy. It is just one of those INDYCAR classics that kind of has everything, and personally I’ve had good success here. No better place to come back to.

PATO, YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE RACE BEING FIVE LAPS LONGER. DOES THAT CHANGE YOUR APPROACH?
O’WARD: Not really. I leave all the strategy to my team because I’m not like the most experienced at that. I’m pretty sure five more laps longer will open the windows to a two or three stopper which makes the racing cooler. Not just a straight forward fuel save and that’s what it is going to be. I think its nice. I’m happy the race is five laps longer. I don’t know how many more approaches we can take to it, but I am pretty sure that will open to a three stopper to maximize what you have.

TAYLOR, HOW GOOD IS IT FOR THE TEAM TO HAVE FELIX BACK THIS WEEKEND AND GOING FORWARD?
KIEL: It’s huge. It is something we have talked about. Felix kind of alluded to it. We finally felt like we were turning the corner in Detroit. I think we had a really good car. Felix was comfortable. We were ready, and then it didn’t happen. We need to turn the corner. This is a pretty good place to do it. That is what our focus is now. Securing good results week after week and building on the momentum so we can maximize the second half of the year. I know the potential is there. Felix is driving well. We just need to get the whole package together. Once we do that I have no doubt he will be running up toward the front where he belongs.

FELIX, WERE THEY TREATING YOU LIKE YOU HAD A CONCUSSION? WHAT WERE YOU ALLOWED TO DO, OR NOT DO. WHAT KIND OF THINGS WERE YOU DOING? WERE THEY TREATING YOU LIKE YOU HAD A CONCUSSION WANTING YOU TO DO A CONCUSSION-LIKE RECOVERY?
ROSENQVIST: After you have a crash like that obviously, I was more worried on the physical side because I had a lot of pain in my body. But I had nothing broken so it was nothing that would be really an issue to drive with. You just have to deal with the pain. But that was my biggest worry. But then when we found out there were some symptoms of a concussion when I did a test, it’s a normal procedure. You can’t watch too many screens, not do any big exercise for awhile. So I think everyone treated [me] really well and I got a lot of good help from INDYCAR to put me through the best possible rehab for the following weeks. And now I feel 99% recovered and I think it is thanks to all of the professionals that helped me to get to this place so quickly. So its been really good how everyone handled it. I think it is one of those things that you can’t be too careful. You only have one brain, so I don’t mind them caring for me.

WERE YOU ALLOWED TO TRAIN AS USUAL, OR WHERE YOU WITHHELD FROM THAT TOO?
ROSENQVIST: Actually the latest studies show that if you have a concussion or symptoms of one it is better to do light exercise with very low heart rate. Maybe like 30 minutes every day. That is something I did which seemed to really help especially on the physical side. I did some exercise and then I ramped it up. Now I am pretty much doing the same exercise I did before Detroit.

IS IT DISRUPTIVE TO HAVE SUBSTITUTE DRIVERS IN THE CAR?
KIEL: It’s not easy. You certainly want Felix in the car every weekend. But the good thing is we were able to lean into certainly Oliver (Askew) in Detroit and the guys were familiar with each other. We were able to get all the difficult things you have to do in that situation done. He did a great job and so very happy with that. Then we had a little bit of time. Thought Kevin (Magnussen) might be a good fit for one of these things. That came together very quickly for the Road America piece. We were able to try a few things, but the total focus was making sure we were maximizing the No. 5 car throughout the process. Certainly we were out to collect points with both entries. But you have to be very focused when something like this happens.

PATO WAS IT DIFFICULT FOR YOU TO NOT HAVE YOUR FULLTIME TEAMMATE DURING THE TWO RACES?
O’WARD: I certainly missed Felix. But you kind of have to mentalize yourself as in do your own program. Pay attention to what you need from the car. Honestly I feel like that is what INDYCAR is. There are teams that have two, three, four cars, and honestly sometimes we drive differently. Everybody drives differently and everybody needs different things from the car to be able to extract the time. Sometimes what our teammates have is useless to us. Sometimes its not useless to us. Sometimes it helps us. Its kind of like 50-50. Is it going to help? Is it not going to help? I kind of just focus on what I need from the car and get what works for me. I know that I drive very different to many other drivers. The way I extract the time from the car is very different. Some people can’t be driving the same thing they are because it’s just not going to be quick enough for them.

WHAT DID YOU THINK OF PATO SAYING HE WAS GOING TO WIN AND THEN DEDICATING HIS DETROIT WIN TO YOU?
ROSENQVIST: That was pretty awesome. We talked in the morning and Pato said he was going to win this one for you. We kind of joked about it. We were driving back home, my girlfriend was driving and I was watching the race. It was pretty cool when he said that after the race. He is a man of his word!

DID YOU LEARN ANYTHING BEING OUT OF THE CAR WATCHING THE RACES THAT MAYBE YOU CAN APPLY NOW THAT YOU ARE BACK IN THE CAR?
ROSENQVIST: I thought it was interesting following the race from the outside. I always try to do the best I can in whatever situation I am in. I thought there were things you can learn just observing. Spending more time observing other drivers as well. During the weekend you don’t really have time to look at much because you are busy with your own stuff. I had a lot of time to analyze everything all around. I thought it was interesting. But we have such a tight stretch with races I don’t really feel like it was a really bad thing to be…it’s always bad when others can be in the car and your not. But it would have been worse if it was a massive…if I was out of the car for two months or something. But just missing two weeks I don’t really think it will affect me in anyway really. I feel fine, and I think I will be at the level I was before I came to Detroit. I think everything will be fine.

WHAT ARE YOUR EMOTIONS GETTING BACK IN THE CAR?
ROSENQVIST: It’s like when you get in the car for the first time in the season and you are really excited to see how it feels. I feel a certain level of that I guess. It’s crazy how quickly you become hungry especially when you are not driving, when you are just watching everyone else drive. You just want to get back into it you picture it and you think about it. Hopefully that kind of fire will be a positive thing as well.

PATO, AS YOU MENTIONED YOU ARE OUTNUMBERED BY THE GANASSI TEAM. HOW AGGRESSIVE CAN YOU BE AT MID-OHIO?
O’WARD: I think it is pretty straightforward. We just have to score more points than both of them. I don’t think it gets simpler than that.

About Chevrolet
Founded in 1911 in Detroit, Chevrolet is now one of the world’s largest car brands, available in 79 countries with more than 3.2 million cars and trucks sold in 2020. Chevrolet models include electric and fuel-efficient vehicles that feature engaging performance, design that makes the heart beat, passive and active safety features and easy-to-use technology, all at a value. More information on Chevrolet models can be found at www.chevrolet.com.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com

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