16 Jan 2020
Scott McLaughlin got a first taste of IndyCar in Florida this week in a test for Team Penske.
The New Zealander, who has won the last two Australian Supercars titles for DJR Team Penske, completed over 140 laps on Sebring’s short course in an unofficial session that also featured IndyCar rookies Rinus Veekay, Oliver Askew, and a returning Sage Karam.
McLaughlin’s best time of 53.3 seconds was a second off pacesetter VeeKay’s best time and 0.4s behind Askew, but a second quicker than Karam.
“It’s everything I dreamt of. I’m so thankful to Roger, Tim [Cindric] and Team Penske to be able to come over here and run an IndyCar. It’s a dream come true,” McLaughlin told the official Supercars’ website. “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.”
The test in one of Penske’s Chevrolet-powered Dallaras was more than just a fun outing for the 26-year-old, who completed qualifying and race simulations on varying fuel loads, as well as pit stops.
Simon Pagenaud, the 2016 IndyCar champion and 2019 Indianapolis 500 winner, was on hand to assist with chassis setup on the day, while his Penske team mates Josef Newgarden and Will Power, as well as Penske IndyCar legend Rick Mears also watched on.
McLaughlin’s maiden IndyCar test – his first outing in open-wheel machinery since he briefly raced in Formula Ford a decade ago – has already led to speculation that he could make his IndyCar debut later this season. He has long harboured an interest in racing in the US, although he was expected to follow in the footsteps of fellow multiple Supercars champion Marcos Ambrose and race in NASCAR.
McLaughlin could take part in IndyCar’s ‘Spring Training’ test at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin Texas next month, however running in the official test event comes with the caveat that participants are expected to compete in a race at some point over the coming season.
Any potential race outing for McLaughlin would have to come during an off weekend for Supercars and the IMSA sports car series that Penske also competes in. Staff from Penske’s factory Acura prototype operation would be utilised to run a fourth IndyCar entry for McLaughlin.
Image credits: Team Penske