By David Morgan, Associate Editor
NTT IndyCar Series street races always seem to end with hurt feelings and Sunday’s Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach was no different.
This time around, it was six-time series champion Scott Dixon and Pato O’Ward that weren’t seeing eye to eye at the end of the day.
The problems between the two stemmed from an incident on lap 20 in Turn 8 when O’Ward dove to the inside of Dixon heading into the right-hander, which led to wheel-to-wheel contact that sent Dixon head on into the tire barrier.
O’Ward was able to get away from the incident unscathed, while safety crews had to be dispatched to pull Dixon’s Honda out of the tires.
“That seemed extremely late,” Dixon said as he watched a replay of the incident. “It starts way before that. We were already committed to the corner. I understand there is tire deg and all that kind of stuff going on, but, you know, I wouldn’t have chosen to do that.
“If that’s how the series wants us to race, then I guess it’s all gloves off from this point and that’s how it would be. So yeah, disappointed with that.”
O’Ward chalked the contact up to a racing incident and noted that the fault shouldn’t lie at his feet.
“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 yeah, I don’t know what to say,” O’Ward said as he explained his side of it. “I mean, I’ve been racing Scott for a few years. He feels like that was my fault. Well, sorry you feel that way, but I don’t agree.”
Pushed further on the incident, O’Ward was unrepentant for the contact between himself and Dixon.
“I’m sure I’ll circle back with him either this weekend or the next one, but I’m not going to apologize for that. We’re racing. A lot of the times when I’m in that situation, I just kind of let the guy go because if you’re on the outside, you’re more vulnerable to those things happening.”
Dixon’s race went from bad to worse as a mechanical failure would ultimately sideline him after 37 laps. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver also took umbrage with the start of the race that caused him to lose track position right out of the gate.
“I don’t know what happened at the end there,” Dixon said. “We kind of just passed the 60 car, I think, and then lost drive after that and got back to the pits. So frustrating day. You know, it’s gonna be hard on the strategy that we were, and plus the start was a complete joke as well.
“I don’t know what, what they’re calling up there, but you know, it seemed like row six or five went way before even the leader did.”
Meanwhile, O’Ward continued to stay in the fight as the race progressed, but found himself in a predicament in the later stages and wound up in the same tire barrier that Dixon was buried in earlier in the day.
The Arrow McLaren driver tried to dive low on eventual race winner Kyle Kirkwood and third-place finisher Marcus Ericsson in a two for one move, but things didn’t go his way and he spun his Chevrolet backwards into the tires. O’Ward would be able to get his car righted and rejoined the race, but finished the day in 17th place.
“The other issue that I had in Turn 8, completely my fault,” O’Ward said. “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 just kind of squeezed myself.
“I didn’t want to take out Kirkwood, so I just kind of slammed on the brakes and locked the rears and just spun. It’s been definitely a weekend not to forget. I think there’s a lot of positives that we can take out of this weekend.
“Just disappointed in myself. I don’t have to be making those stupid moves. Just not not up to the level that I expect from myself.”
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