McLaughlin targets qualifying gains after ‘disappointing day’

Scott McLaughlin finished 23rd. Picture: Chris Owens

Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin says he has to be better in qualifying to make the most of a fast car and put himself in the mix.

The 28-year-old only qualified 20th for the Big Machine Spiked Coolers Grand Prix after failing to progress to the Fast 12.

Sporting a new livery, McLaughlin made his way to 17th inside 10 laps to go before making contact with Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus VeeKay.

That sent the Dutch driver into a spin, stalling, and bringing out the yellow flag and subsequent Safety Car.

For his involvement in the incident, McLaughlin was dropped to the back of the queue for the race restart.

In the end, the Kiwi came home 23rd.

The result was in stark contrast to his last showing on the Grand Prix-configured Indianapolis Motor Speedway where he claimed his best road course finish of eighth.

“The Carshop Chevrolet was reasonably quick today, we just lacked a little bit of track position today,” said McLaughlin.

“That is on us though. We have to qualify better to find ourselves a bit more in the mix.

“We made a mistake towards the end of the race when we were in slightly better position than where we finished.

“A disappointing day, but also a good learning day.”

While it was a tale of woe for McLaughlin, his Team Penske stable-mates enjoyed a prosperous 85-lap race.

Best of all was Will Power, who won the affair from second on the grid.

Josef Newgarden was able to come through from 21st to eighth while Simon Pagenaud was 16th.

“Finishing eighth today was not what we were dreaming of, but a pretty good result after having to start 20th,” said Newgarden, who incurred a six-place grid penalty for an unapproved engine change prior to the race.

“There was some chaos to avoid in the beginning after thinking I was going to get sideswiped by several cars on the start.

“I felt like I had to save the car for later in the race and that put us back a little bit. After that, we just started marching forward and finally got into the top 10 and finished eighth.

“Again, a pretty good day for us. It was a fun race with XPEL and Team Chevy, and we moved forward in points a bit so that is great.”

Next weekend the IndyCar Series heads to Gateway for the Bommarito Automotive Group 500, capping off a triple-header of events.

“We are headed back to an oval next week and I am looking forward to taking another crack at that to see what we have,” said McLaughlin.

McLaughlin still holds 13th in the standings and is the leading rookie ahead of Romain Grosjean.

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