O’Ward led the most laps in Sunday’s 107th running of America’s premier open-wheel race, and was at the front at a restart with eight laps to go.
But after one restart was waved off, for bringing the field to green too slowly, O’Ward was prone to attack when the race went green again.
“I just think I was a little too nice there,” O’Ward told NBC Peacock. “I just feel so bummed for the team, we had very fast race cars.”
O’Ward and Ericsson had battled for the win on the final lap of last year’s race, when O’Ward backed out of a move at Turn 1 on the final lap, allowing Ericsson to win.
This time, O’Ward pulled a late lunge on him down the inside at Turn 3, but Ericsson didn’t give up the corner. O’Ward touched the grass before clipping Ericsson’s left-rear wheel and spinning into the wall, as Ericsson escaped to go on and finish a close second to Newgarden.
“There were seven laps to go and I was going for it,” added O’Ward. “I was way too nice.
“I’ll make sure that he comes with me next time. I got on to the apron to give him room and I got squeezed, and yeah, I won’t forget that one.”
McLaren lost another frontrunning car when Felix Rosenqvist was eliminated in a huge crash with 14 laps remaining.
Newgarden had just passed him into Turn 1, and Rosenqvist slid up the track and into the wall, damaging his car enough to make it spin into the path of Kyle Kirkwood’s Andretti Autosport machine, which flipped over as it was sent into the SAFER barrier.
“I just got passed, and I got on the wrong side of the wake,” explained Rosenqvist. “I got a big push, but the rear just came out. I tried to stay out there but I think something broke, and I just came back onto the track. We had a hell of a race, man.”
Kirkwood’s left-rear wheel flew over the debris fencing, just missing a grandstand and landing upon an unoccupied Chevrolet in the car park. Neither fans nor drivers were hurt in the incident.
Kirkwood reported: “Everything happened so quick, being up in the fence is never a good thing in an IndyCar. The scary part was seeing the sparks and being stuck at that point.
“We felt like we were going to win, we were just driving through cars there.”