US opportunities no distraction for McLaughlin

Wednesday 29th June, 2016 - 4:00am

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Scott McLaughlin at the New Hampshire NASCAR race in 2014

Scott McLaughlin at the New Hampshire NASCAR race in 2014

Scott McLaughlin says he wants to win a Supercars Championship and a Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 before looking to race for Team Penske in the United States.

Moving to DJR Team Penske for 2017 raises the prospect of future opportunities for McLaughlin in NASCAR, where the American outfit also runs a two-car Ford team.

McLaughlin has previously expressed his desire to race in the stock car series, introducing himself to several teams and drivers during a trip to New Hampshire in 2014.

While admitting it would be “a no-brainer” to think about racing in the USA with Penske, McLaughlin insists that such possibilities were not a major factor in his decision to join the team.

“I want to win the championship and win Bathurst, they are my two goals,” McLaughlin told Speedcafe.com.

“At the end of the day if I haven’t done them then I won’t even think about it (racing in the US).

“If I have then there’s always a possibility and at the end of the day you’ve got to look at Penske from the IndyCar and NASCAR side of things. Obviously it’s their forte.

“It was in some ways a no-brainer for me to think about that, but at the end of the day my 100 percent focus is on the Australian championship.

“That’s why I’ve signed here, not to worry about any NASCAR drives.”

Team Penske president Tim Cindric affirmed that he has not discussed racing in the US with McLaughlin, but says he’d be open to such possibilities in future.

Cindric cited Sam Hornish’s progression from the team’s IndyCar to NASCAR programs last decade as an example of what could happen with McLaughlin.

“We went through a similar situation with Sam Hornish back in the IndyCar days when he signed from Panther Racing,” he said.

“There were similar discussions because he actually talked to some of the NASCAR teams, DEI (Dale Earnhardt Incorporated) and a few others, about going NASCAR racing.

“He came to us and said ‘I want to win the Indy 500 before I worry about NASCAR’.

“That’s what we set out to do and we were obviously able to accomplish that in 2006.

“Then we said ‘is that (NASCAR) something you want to do or not do’ and we moved that to a NASCAR transition.

“With Scott here, it’s not something we’ve talked about whether we’re going to do or not do, (but) if that opportunity presents itself we’re all ears for the circumstances.

“It’s our goal here in the Supercars series to do exactly what he (McLaughlin) said.

“We’re here to win Bathurst and the championship as well and we want the best guy in the seat to do that first.”