By: Tanner Watkins
October 30, 2019 | 8:00 AM
After reams of conversation and speculation over the past couple of days, the newly-minted Arrow McLaren SP confirmed that young guns Oliver Askew and Patricio O’Ward will compete for the team in the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series championship.
Askew and O’Ward have won each of the last two Indy Lights championships – the highest tier in the Road to Indy ladder – and in the process, race-winning veteran James Hinchcliffe has been moved out of the picture after five years driving for Sam Schmidt.
“It’s a dream come true to be joining Arrow McLaren SP for my first year in IndyCar,” said Askew in today’s release by the team. “The new team brings together three great partners and it’s an honor to be representing them in this new chapter for the team and for my career. This is an exciting new challenge for me and the next natural step after winning the Indy Lights title this year. I can’t wait to get started.”
Added O’Ward: “I couldn’t be happier to be with Arrow McLaren SP for my first full season in IndyCar. I’ve had some great opportunities over the last year, but this is by far the greatest thing that could possibly happen for my career. I had a taste of IndyCar earlier this year and cannot wait to represent Arrow McLaren SP in the best way possible for a full season in 2020.”
In eight career NTT IndyCar Series starts, O’Ward is sporting an average finish of 13.2 – including his top run of eighth at the Circuit of the Americas IndyCar Classic back in March. O’Ward made each of his seven starts in 2019 for Trevor Carlin’s maturing IndyCar program, but missed out on qualifying for the 103rd Indianapolis 500 this past May.
Before winning the Indy Lights title in 2018, O’Ward picked up first-place championship results in the WeatherTech Sports Car Championship’s prototype challenge division as a driver for Performance Tech Motorsports.
Askew, 22, won seven races for Andretti Autosport en route to clinching the 2019 Indy Lights title over fellow prospect Rinus VeeKay. The Florida native had an average starting position of 2.5, and an average finishing position of 2.6 in 18 Indy Lights rounds this year.
Earlier in his career, Askew claimed the 2017 USF2000 championship after gaining entry to the series as the 2016 Mazda Road to Indy Shootout winner. Askew was also selected as a Team USA Scholarship recipient in 2016, finishing second in the prestigious Walter Hayes Trophy race.
It is clear that Arrow McLaren SP are building towards the future with their selection of two wide-eyed youngsters, and that focus towards the future was confirmed by team co-owner Sam Schmidt as well as McLaren Racing sporting director Gil De Ferran.
“With our background in Indy Lights, I’ve followed Oliver and Pato closely over the last few years on the Road to Indy,” said Schmidt. “I couldn’t think of a better pairing as we write the first chapter in Arrow McLaren SP’s story.
“They’ve proven their skills on the Road to Indy and with an Indy Lights championship each, they are ready and deserving of full-time seats in IndyCar. I have no doubt that Oliver and Pato are the right drivers to move Arrow McLaren SP forward.”
De Ferran agrees, adding: “Oliver and Pato represent the new generation of IndyCar drivers. Proven winners and exciting prospects, I have no doubt that they will form an excellent pairing as we take on the 2020 season.”
With Hinchcliffe on the market for a ride, plus the hot commodity of VeeKay, the IndyCar silly season doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon. Much is left to be sorted before the green flag drops on the season opener in St. Pete – just under five months from now.
Header image by Arrow McLaren SP.