Why oval racing debut has McLaughlin excited
Friday 30th April, 2021 - 11:02am
Scott McLaughlin is set to tackle his third different style of IndyCar Series racing in as many weeks when he takes to Texas Motor Speedway this weekend.
After the season-opener at Barber Motorsports Park road course where he finished 14th, McLaughlin improved to 11th on the streets of St Petersburg.
For the first time this season, McLaughlin will step into his oval-configured Chevrolet-powered Dallara IR-18 in a competitive setting.
The 27-year-old has had a handful of testing hit-outs at the high banked speedway with Team Penske, though none have been with the full IndyCar Series field.
McLaughlin will get a double dose of the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway, with two races across Saturday and Sunday evening (local time).
“It’s nice to do a completely different discipline,” McLaughlin told the official IndyCar Series website.
“I think I’m more excited for the ovals than the road courses because it’s so different to what I’ve done before.
“It’s so fast. There’s just nothing that’s quite as exhilarating as going 220 miles per hour with people wheel-to-wheel.
“That’s what’s so cool with IndyCar racing, what’s so pure about it, what makes it so different to really any sport in the world.
“We have a vast difference in tracks; road courses, street courses, ovals, big fast ovals, short ovals, and all require a different type of driving, which is what I’m really excited about for this weekend.”
McLaughlin’s maiden oval outing will be supported by team-mates Will Power, Josef Newgarden, and Simon Pagenaud.
The Kiwi won’t have much time to get up to speed with a practice session that’ll last just over an hour quickly followed by qualifying and then the weekend’s first race.
For McLaughlin, it’ll be a case of information overload.
“It’s learning the timing on an oval,” McLaughlin explained.
“[It’s] understanding how hard do I dive into the corner. Working out my corner exits so I get runs down into Turn 3 or Turn 1. When do I make a passing move? How do I save fuel on an oval?
“Race strategy is a big thing.”
“I feel very comfortable,” he added. “Ready for the challenge.”
McLaughlin’s preparation for this weekend has included a slew of simulated events with engineer Jonathan Diuguid and spotter Adam Fournier.
“He says, ‘Inside, outside, clear, outside is working, inside line is working,’ all the normal chat we would have,” McLaughlin said.
“Just getting familiar with all that sort of stuff is a big thing for me.”
Practice gets underway on May 2 at 02:45 (AEST) followed by Qualifying for both races at 06:00 (AEST).
The Genesys 300 takes place on May 2 at 09:45 (AEST) with the XPEL 375 on May 3 at 7:45 (AEST).
McLaughlin will carry the PPG Paints colour scheme this weekend.