Qualifying for the race last weekend was a battle for pole between Chip Ganassi Racing, McLaren and Ed Carpenter Racing – with cars from each team filling the front row on Sunday.

But even though the highest-placed Penske is 12th, with Will Power, and Andretti car is 15th, with Kyle Kirkwood, O’Ward believes they will still be a threat in the race.

"It’s going to be a dogfight for sure, I think the Penskes are going to be there,” said O’Ward. “They’re going to have very strong race cars.

"It’s one thing to have a strong qualifying car but I think there’s more than a handful of cars that are very, very strong [in the race].

"There are so many strong cars that there’s not really one car you can pick and say ‘they look the best’. So many people look somewhat similar, so I think it’s going to be a really tight race, I really do.

"We can’t count the Penskes out, we can’t count the Andrettis out. And [Rinus] VeeKay in the Carpenter car, that’s going to be very strong.

"All four of our Arrow McLaren cars have been just very solid, I don’t think we’ve been the best, but we haven’t been bad, and we’ve just been working hard on making them better.

"I think we’re very conditioned for when the green flag drops on race day. We wanna win, you’ve got to be there at the end and capitalise on it."

Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet

Photo by: Brett Farmer / Motorsport Images

Power is adamant that Penske will be in the mix for victory, and that the speed missing in qualifying will return in race trim – having been third quickest in final practice on Carb Day yesterday and topped Monday’s session when the turbo boost was reset to race levels.

"The expectations are to be running at the front with 50 [laps] to go, that’s absolutely what we expect,” he said. “I’m actually very comfortable with the race car.

"I feel like it’ll be a race of no mistakes that will put you in a position to win. It is the toughest field in the history of IndyCar right now, I think it’s great. If you win any of these races you’ve done an exceptional job.

"I started 12th last year and I think you can move up pretty quickly with a good car, through the pit sequences and be there at the end.

"I believe we’re going to see a lot of back and forth, like a game of chess, and then it’s going to be a case of how you place your car on that last lap.

"There’s a few different scenarios and you can’t really plan for that."

2023-05-27T20:01:16Z dg43tfdfdgfd