Arrow McLaren appear primed to secure their first Indy 500 win in the race’s 107th running, which would solidify the team’s spot in the IndyCar pecking order.
McLaren officially entered the IndyCar scene in 2020 when they entered into a partnership with Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. The team was initially started by Sam Schmidt in 2001 and has 11 race wins in the series since then.
In the 19 seasons prior to McLaren coming into the picture, a driver from the team had finished in the season in the top 10 in the championship standings on just four occasions. They have matched that total in the three full seasons since.
Despite tacking on pole positions, podium finishes, and wins over the past few seasons, Arrow McLaren still haven’t reached the same level as Chip Ganassi Racing or Team Penske. They’re looking to change that in 2023.
This past offseason, Arrow McLaren invested big money into taking the next step in their growth. Most notably, they brought on 2016 Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi as a third full-time driver. The 31-year-old brings IndyCar experience to a driver lineup that can benefit from his seven years with Andretti Autosport.
The team also made serious moves behind the scenes. Aggressive hiring from both inside and outside the sport brought in top talent to push the team to their technical limits.
So far, all that work in the offseason to build a championship team has paid off. Each driver has found success so far this season. Pato O’Ward has three runner-up finishes, Felix Rosenqvist has a pole position, and Rossi has a podium finish.
The biggest test for Arrow McLaren so far comes this weekend. An Indy 500 win would vault the team to the top of the series.
Qualifying this past weekend went just as well as the team could’ve hoped for. All four drivers, with Tony Kanaan being the fourth, made it into the second round of qualifying on Sunday. Rossi and Kanaan both just missed out on the Firestone Fast Six and are set to start in seventh and ninth place, respectively.
Both Rosenqvist and O’Ward took their best career Indy 500 starting positions, with Rosenqvist on the outside of the front row in third place and O’Ward in fifth.
The team’s qualifying performance proved to be the best all-around team showing. Chip Ganassi Racing were the only other team with four cars in the top 12 and two in the top six. Arrow McLaren’s four-car lineup averaged a starting position of 6.00, with Chip Ganassi Racing a tad lower at 6.25.
Of course, no one remembers strong qualifying performances. It will all come down to how the drivers do once the green flag flies.
Last year, race pace for Arrow McLaren was strong. O’Ward and Rosenqvist both finished in the top four, and O’Ward nearly stole the win away from Marcus Ericsson. The team’s third driver in 2022, Juan Pablo Montoya, finished in 11th place after starting the day in 30th.
This year, as usual for the Indy 500, the race will come down to pit stops and limiting mistakes. With at least five pit stops, the margin for error is razor thin. Last year, we saw Chip Ganassi Racing frontrunners Alex Palou and Scott Dixon have their days derailed in the pits. With elite cars, clean races could have any of the four Arrow McLaren drivers in position to win.
Arrow McLaren also have momentum on their side going into the biggest race of the year. All three full-time drivers have finished in the top 10 in both of the past two races. The GMR Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course two weeks ago was particularly good to the team. All three finished in the top five, with O’Ward and Rossi ending up on the podium.
Kanaan will be giving it his all, as this Indy 500 is his last race. The emotions will be high, but once the race is underway, the 2013 Indy 500 winner will make sure he’s putting himself in the right spot to fight for a win.
A lot of things are pointing toward an Arrow McLaren driver celebrating with the milk in victory circle. The Indy 500 win that has eluded the team for the past few years would make them the team to beat going forward. Can they get over the hump?
The four Arrow McLaren drivers are set to get their shot at history in the 107th running of the Indy 500 this Sunday, May 28, with live coverage set to begin at 11:00 a.m. ET on NBC. Begin a free trial of FuboTV now and don’t miss any of the action!