The NTT IndyCar Series has a new storm brewing after Pato O’Ward and Scott Dixon’s collision in Sunday’s Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.
O’Ward went inside of Dixon as the pair approached Turn 8 on Lap 20. The pair had contact as they went through the right-hander, sending Dixon into the barrier and O’Ward into sixth place.
Scott Dixon goes into the tires!
He had help from Pato O'Ward. 👀 #INDYCAR | @NBC and @Peacock pic.twitter.com/F33m2ZLWBh
— INDYCAR on NBC (@IndyCaronNBC) April 16, 2023
“That seemed extremely late,” Dixon said to NBC’s Kevin Lee. “I can understand there’s tire deg and all of that kind of stuff going on, but I wouldn’t have chosen to do that, but 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.”
Dixon remained on the lead lap as the safety team freed the No. 9 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda from the tire barrier. The 2008 Indianapolis 500 winner continued in the 85-lap race, but stopped after 37 laps after a mechanical failure.
As for O’Ward, he continued in the race but had another collision with eventual race winner Kyle Kirkwood after a chaotic restart. Following an early final pit stop, O’Ward finished 17th, the first car one lap down.
O’Ward was not apologetic for his contact with Dixon.
“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,” O’Ward said to NBC’s Marty Snider. “Yeah, don’t know what to say. I’ve been racing Scott for a few years and if he feels like that was my fault, well, I’m sorry you (Scott) feel that way but I don’t agree.
“I’m sure I’ll circle back with (Dixon) either this weekend or the next one. I’m not going to apologize for that. We’re racing, so a lot of the times when I’ve been in that situation, I kind of just let the guy go because if you’re on the outside you’re more vulnerable to those things happening.”
However, O’Ward did feel that the contact with Kirkwood was his own fault.
“I feel bad that I let my team down, I let the amazing crowd that came out today (down),” O’Ward said. “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 slammed on the brakes, locked the rears and spun.”