McLaughlin wins IndyCar Rookie of the Year crown

Scott McLaughlin. Picture: Chris Owens

Scott McLaughlin has done the double, winning Rookie of the Year titles in the IndyCar Series and Indianapolis 500.

In doing so, McLaughlin has become the first Rookie of the Year winner for Team Penske in its illustrious history dating back to the 1960s.

An 11th place finish at the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach was enough for the three-time Supercars champion to win the crown.

It came after title adversary Romain Grosjean of Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware Racing suffered damage to his car and lost several laps in the pits.

McLaughlin ended the season 14th overall on 305 points while Grosjean finished 15th with 272 points.

“I’m really proud of everyone in the PPG Chevy,” said McLaughlin.

“I think the car has been awesome and I’ve finally got it to my liking, the last sort of six or seven races.

“I’m really proud of everyone and really excited for the next year. This year was a foundation year, all about building, and I feel like I’ve done that.

“Hopefully I can be a little bit further up next year.”

McLaughlin said he’ll look to make a marked improvement year-on-year, studying his team-mates to see where he can develop himself.

“Every area I need to get better,” he explained.

“I need to study what Josef [Newgarden] does different, what Will [Power] does different, Simon [Pagenaud], figure out my flaws and figure out where I’m strong and then work out a ranking and what I work on.

“Certainly, the first thing for me is fitness, continually getting better with that and then obviously working on bits and pieces with my engineer.

“That will change during the year. Jonathan Diuguid will be moving onto the IMSA/WEC programme, the sportscar programme. I’ve got a new engineer I’m going to work with. It’s all about building relationships and getting better.”

McLaughlin joins the likes of Robert Wickens (2018), Alexander Rossi (2016), Gabby Chaves (2015), Marco Andretti (2006), Danica Patrick (2005), Kosuke Matsuura (2004), Jacques Villeneuve (1994), Nigel Mansell (1993), Jeff Andretti (1991), Eddie Cheever (1990), Bernard Jourdain (1989), Fabrizio Barbazza (1987), Arie Luyendyk (1985), Roberto Guerrero (1984), and Teo Fabi (1983) to take Rookie of the Year honours in the series and Indianapolis 500 in the same year.

Earlier this year McLaughlin finished 20th on his Indianapolis 500 debut, but for a time was vying for a top 10 finish until he received a pit lane speeding penalty.

The New Zealander’s maiden season was highlighted by a second place finish at Texas Motor Speedway in only his fourth race start.

In all, McLaughlin claimed five top 10 finishes, leading his first laps at Portland International Raceway at the third-to-last round.

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