Two-time defending Virgin Australia Supercars champion Scott McLaughlin of DJR Team Penske (DJRTP) got the racing opportunity of a lifetime Monday as he tested one of the team’s Indy cars.
McLaughlin, who captured his second consecutive Supercars driver’s title for DJRTP in 2019, put a Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet though its paces during the IndyCar Series rookie evaluation test at Sebring International Raceway. With the team’s three IndyCar Series drivers – Josef Newgarden, Simon Pagenaud and Will Power – on hand for support and direction, McLaughlin had a strong day on track in his first opportunity to drive an Indy car.
Indy500 winner Power was impressed by the 26-year-old McLaughlin’s performance.
“Did a good job. You do that many laps man, you’re going to spent tonight,“ Power said.
The 26-year-old native of Christchurch, New Zealand turned more than 140 laps on the tough Sebring road course as he quickly got up to speed and adapted to the handling of the open-wheel machine.
“Unreal, the car is a beast,” said McLaughlin. “It’s everything I dreamt of. I’m so thankful to Roger, Tim and Team Penske to be able to come over here and run an Indy car. It’s a dream come true. It’s been a big day. 141 laps, the neck is pretty sore. We held on and did a long run at the end, and I got a feel for everything. Qualifying runs, race runs, long runs, fuel loads and pit exits so it was really cool.”
Team Penske advisor, four-time Indianapolis 500 champion and INDYCAR legend Rick Mears was also at Sebring to help McLaughlin during the test.
After establishing a new Supercars series single-season record with 18 victories – including a win at the famed Bathurst 1000 race – in 2019, McLaughlin will return behind the wheel of the No. 17 Shell V-Power Ford Mustang for DJR Team Penske in 2020.
The New Zealander recently married his American wife Karly Paone and the couple have spent most of the Supercars off-season holidaying in New York.
Penske, a billionaire businessman whose team has won the Indy 500 a record 18 times, is a huge admirer of McLaughlin and apparently very keen to bring the Ford star into his stable of American-based drivers either in the open-wheel IndyCar category or the NASCAR championship.
Source: Team Penske