Team Penske already seeing McLaughlin’s benefit
Sunday 7th March, 2021 - 12:31pm
Josef Newgarden and Will Power have both identified benefits in having Scott McLaughlin join Team Penske’s expanded four-car IndyCar Series outfit.
McLaughlin’s move to the United States comes off the back of three straight Supercars titles with the team formerly known as DJR Team Penske.
The Kiwi is in the midst of an off-season testing programme, piloting the #3 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Sebring International Raceway, and Barber Motorsports Park so far.
For Team Penske stable-mate Power, who last won the IndyCar Series crown in 2014, the arrival of McLaughlin brings an immediate benefit to the team.
“It’s just more information and more quality people on the IndyCar side,” Power explained.
“Obviously the sports car programme went away and we took a lot of good people from that programme.
“So yeah, just more engineering power and more information as far as drivers, set-up info, and all that sort of stuff.”
The expansion of the IndyCar Series programme came at the expense of its two-car IMSA SportsCar Championship team.
Newgarden said he’s eager to see what impact the expansion to a four-car set-up brings in the wake of its top sports car personnel switching camps.
“I’m pretty excited about it,” said Newgarden.
“It’s good timing for us. We operate well as a three-car team. When I initially came to Team Penske, it was a four-car operation.
“I’ve seen both sides of it. I think at this time and place, I think a four-car team will give us more strengths than weaknesses at the moment.
“I think having an extra car, extra hands, extra set of data, extra engineer full-time, it’s all going to benefit what we’re doing. We’re already seeing that. We’re already seeing the benefit of it.
“Scott is a really smart, accomplished driver. He’s really good at what he does. He’s still learning IndyCar. He’s not fully up to speed, I would say, but he’s not going to struggle. He drives his car to a very high level.
“His engineer, Jonathan Diuguid, is a strong addition to our operation. I think it’s going to be a big benefit to us, to have a four-car operation. I’m excited from that standpoint.”
While internally Power is confident McLaughlin’s arrival will give the team a boost, he’s also confident it will grow IndyCar’s profile down under.
“I was really happy he came over because it gives a lot of attention to IndyCar from Australia,” said Power.
“I think the TV ratings will be better because he was so popular there and won three championships in a row.
“I think it just brings more attention to IndyCar, which now that we don’t race down there doesn’t get much love.
“Scott is a good guy. He’s from New Zealand but basically Australia, so we certainly get along well. I think he’ll be a pretty quick guy.”
This year’s IndyCar Series gets underway at Barber Motorsports Park across April 16-18.