Pato O’Ward signs extension with Arrow McLaren SP through the 2025 season

Pato O'Ward extension McLaren
Brian Spurlock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

INDIANAPOLIS — Pato O’Ward, one of the biggest names in the pool of potential free agents in the NTT IndyCar Series, is off the market having re-signed an extension with Arrow McLaren SP.

The team announced an extension with the rising Mexican star through the 2025 season, closing a round of negotiations that was contentious at times and admittedlyl distracting for O’Ward, 23.

But the No. 5 Dallara-Chevrolet driver said he refocused starting with a fifth in the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach and then won the May 8 race at Barber Motorsports Park.

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O’Ward won twice last season at Texas Motor Speedway and Detroit, finishing finished third in the championship standings.

The Monterrey, Mexico, native ranked fourth in the points during his 2020 debut with McLaren. His nine career podiums all have come with the team, and he was the 2020 Indy 500 rookie of the year with a sixth place. He also won the 2018 Indy Lights championship and has two class wins in the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

In March, O’Ward, who will be starting seventh in Sunday’s Indy 500 (11 a.m. ET, NBC), went public with news that he was testing the IndyCar free agent market. The revelation came just days after McLaren announced a Formula One testing contract with Colton Herta. O’Ward, who shares the same F1 aspirations as his Rolex 24-winning teammate, initially seemed miffed by the news.

“I am incredibly happy to have locked in my future with Arrow McLaren SP,” O’Ward said in a Friday release. “This team has truly felt like home for me over the past three years, and I can’t wait to build on our success as we compete for wins and championships. I want to thank the whole team for this opportunity. This is exactly where I want to be.”

McLaren owner Zak Brown had said earlier this year that O’Ward was under contract through 2024 but had the right to solicit offers from other teams in a form of restricted free agency.

“Pato is an important part of McLaren’s future in IndyCar and we are happy that he will be a key part of Arrow McLaren SP for years to come,” Brown said in a release. “He is an incredibly talented driver who has already shown what he is capable of in IndyCar, and I look forward to watching him take the next step in his promising career.”

Brown confirmed to the Associated Press that the extension includes a well-earned pay raise for O’Ward, a McLaren for his personal use and potential opportunities with McLaren’s Formula One team.

“The entire team is excited that Pato is on board for the long haul,” Arrow McLaren SP president Taylor Kiel said in a release. “He is an important part of our plan here at Arrow McLaren SP, his energy and work ethic is infectious. Having watched him develop since he joined the team, I look forward to building on these foundations to increase our performance and achieve our common goals in the years to come.”

Arrow McLaren still has two open seats for next year. Felix Rosenqvist also is in a contract year, and the team will add a third full-time entry in 2023.

The team said its driver lineup for next season will be revealed “in due course.”

IndyCar disappointed by delay of video game but aiming to launch at start of 2024

IndyCar video game 2024

An IndyCar executive said there is “absolutely” disappointment that its long-awaited video game recently was delayed beyond its target date, but the series remains optimistic about the new title.

“Well, I don’t know how quick it will be, but the whole situation is important to us,” Penske Entertainment president and CEO Mark Miles said during a news conference Monday morning to announce IndyCar’s NTT title sponsorship. “Motorsport Games has spent a lot of money, a lot of effort to create an IndyCar title. What we’ve seen of that effort, which is not completely obvious, is very reassuring.

“I think it’s going to be outstanding. That’s our shared objective, that when it is released, it’s just widely accepted. A great credit both to IndyCar racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, something that our fans love.”

In June 2021, IndyCar announced a new partnership with Motorsport Games to create and distribute an IndyCar video game for the PC and Xbox and PlayStation consoles in 2023.

But during an earnings call last week, Motorsport Games said the IndyCar game had been delayed to 2024 to ensure high quality.

Somewhat compounding the delay is that IndyCar’s license for iRacing expired after the end of the 2022 season because of its exclusive agreement with Motorsport Games.

That’s resulted in significant changes for IndyCar on iRacing, which had provided a high-profile way for the series to stay visible during its 2020 shutdown from the pandemic. (Players still can race an unbranded car but don’t race on current IndyCar tracks, nor can they stream).

That’s helped ratchet up the attention on having a video game outlet for IndyCar.

“I wish we had an IndyCar title 10 years ago,” said Miles, who has been working with the organization since 2013. “We’ve been close, but we’ve had these I think speed bumps.”

IndyCar is hopeful the Motorsports Game edition will be ready at the start of 2024. Miles hinted that beta versions could be unveiled to reporters ahead of the time “to begin to show the progress in a narrow way to make sure we’ve got it right, to test the progress so that we’re ready when they’re ready.”

It’s been nearly 18 years since the release of the most recent IndyCar video game for console or PC.

“(We) better get it right,” Miles said. “It’s something we’re very close to and continue to think about what it is to make sure we get it over the line in due course.”