What McLaughlin learned on Indy 500 debut

Scott McLaughlin (left) and Rick Mears

Scott McLaughlin will take the experience of finishing his first Indianapolis 500 this time last week into the remaining 10 races of his maiden IndyCar Series season.

Piloting the Pennzoil-backed #3 Dallara IR-18, McLaughlin finished 20th after being handed a mid-race drive-through penalty for speeding in the pit lane.

Before that, the Team Penske driver had been in contention for a top 10 finish.

Nevertheless, McLaughlin was crowned Rookie of the Year, a feat only achieved by three other Team Penske drivers before him.

The 27-year-old, who sits ninth in the drivers’ standings, said he still has a lot to learn about the famed 200-lapper at the Brickyard.

“I have to learn a little bit,” said McLaughlin, who tested at Road America last week.

“My timing, understand the draft a little bit more, really get a feel for the draft process, when you get the wake.

“I lost a couple of positions [on Sunday]. I eventually got them back, but I lost a couple of positions in the [aero] wash, washing up, trying to avoid the wall basically.

“I felt like I’ve learned a ton this whole month. I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s been more positive than negative month for me.

“I’ve done every lap I possibly can. It bodes well for me the rest of the season, at least for next year when I come back here.”

While downtrodden about the end result, McLaughlin was happy to have finished his oval race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

So far, the three-time Supercars champion has finished every race this year and thrice scored top 10 results.

With the 105th running of the 500-mile race under his belt, McLaughlin is already looking forward to the 106th edition.

“Yeah, look, our goal this year has been to finish every lap we can in every race,” he added.

“We’re doing that, we’re ticking boxes. Doing 200 laps around here is a tough gig. Mentally it’s very hard. I’m stoked to do it.

“Like I said, I’ll take this experience, move forward with it for the rest of the season.

“Certainly knowing what to expect, I know it’s going to be even bigger next year for the 500. I’m really excited for it.”

McLaughlin’s next competitive outing will be on the streets of Detroit for what is set to be a double-header.

After the Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, it marks the second circuit this season that he’ll not have previously tested on.

The Belle Isle Street Circuit has typically been a happy hunting ground for Team Penske drivers.

Since it returned to the calendar in 2012, the team has had four wins with Will Power (2014, 2016), Helio Castroneves (2014), and Josef Newgarden (2019) all previous winners.

“I’m going to have my work cut out for me a little bit at Detroit,” said McLaughlin.

“I think I have to learn a track in one practice session, qualifying, race. So it’ll be tough, then a double-header as well.

“I back my team to give me a great car, back my ability to go well.”

The Detroit Grand Prix takes place across June 12-13.

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