O’Ward leads private NTT INDYCAR SERIES test at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca – Dale Coyne Racing’s Jones and Grosjean follow

The No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet of Pato O’Ward navigates the iconic Corkscrew at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. (Photo Courtesy of INDYCAR – Chris Owens)

By Steve Wittich .. Trackside Online

With the first testing period of the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season coming to a close today (March 1, 2021), eight drivers representing four teams took to the 2.238-mile, 11-turn WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca road course.

Leading the way with a reasonably substantial gap was Pato O’Ward, piloting the No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet. Two-tenths behind him were the two Honda-powered cars of Dale Coyne Racing teammate Ed Jones and Romain Grosjean. Also within a half-second of O’Ward were fellow regulars Felix Rosenqvist (Arrow McLaren SP), Jack Harvey (Meyer-Shank Racing), and Rinus VeeKay (Ed Carpenter Racing)

Joining the six full-season competitors were veterans Helio Castroneves and Juan Montoya.

Castroneves is slated to race in the Firestone Grand Prix Of Monterey at the historic road course in September. The Brazilian has a pair of previous victories at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca; an Indy car win in 2000 and an IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship win only four months ago.

Montoya took part in a pair of Indy car races at the circuit and, like his former Team Penske teammate, was a recent winner, taking home the top spot in an IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race in September 2019.

The last time that Montoya was behind the wheel of an Indy car was on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course on May 13, 2017. That’s 1,347 days of rust for the winner of 15 races to knock off.

It appears that Montoya will be utilizing the No. 86 for the races he contests. That is the number that adorned the Indianapolis 500 pole-sitting car in 1971 that was entered by McLaren Racing and piloted by Peter Revson. Revson finished the “Greatest Spectacle In Racing” in second place behind Al Unser.

Peter Revson in the No. 86 turbo-charged Offenhauser powered McLaren during the 1971 Indianapolis 500 (Photo courtesy of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography)

Montoya spent the morning getting comfortable in his machine and gathering some aerodynamic data for the team.

Juan Montoya hops into his Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet with some accoutrements for aerodynamic testing (Photo Courtesy of INDYCAR – Chris Owens)

The eight drivers completed a total of 739 laps, and five of the drivers completed more than the 90-lap distance of the 2019 Firestone Grand Prix Of Monterey.

O’Ward led the morning portion of the test. The 2018 Indy Lights champion was followed by Dale Coyne Racing’s Ed Jones and Romain Grosjean. The pair of drivers for the Plainfield, Ill. based team were within a tenth of a second from O’Ward’s quickest lap.

This is where, once again, we insert our usual corollary that testing times don’t matter. Teams will have different drivers working on various programs, so don’t read too much into the times.

Very unofficial NTT INDYCAR SERIES testing times from WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca

15Pato O’WardArrow McLaren SPChevrolet71.293 83
218Ed JonesDale Coyne Racing With Vasser-SullivanHonda71.529-0.236104
351Romain GrosjeanDale Coyne Racing w/Rick Ware RacingHonda71.571-0.278109
67Felix RosenqvistArrow McLaren SPChevrolet71.600-0.30792
560Jack HarveyMeyer-Shank RacingHonda71.688-0.39581
421Rinus VeeKayEd Carpenter RacingChevrolet71.797-0.504104
886Juan MontoyaArrow McLaren SPChevrolet72.219-0.92675
706Helio CastronevesMeyer-Shank RacingHonda72.812-1.51991

Teams have one team test day to utilize between now and April 6, 2021, so TSO expects to see some more testing soon. The next official track activity will take place on the 2.5-mile oval at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The two-day test, from April 8-9, will be open to all entries of the 105th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge, including rookies that have completed their superspeedway Rookie Orientation Program.