New IndyCar race winner McLaughlin’s exclusive column
Tuesday 1st March, 2022 - 9:00am
Scott McLaughlin made an almighty impression on the 2022 IndyCar Series by taking his maiden pole position and race win at the St Petersburg season-opener. He gives his take on all elements of the breakthrough in his exclusive column, Hired Gun, below…
I don’t think this will come as any surprise to you – but I’m a bit dusty this morning.
What a crazy and memorable, brilliant and emotional, completely nerve-wracking and hazy weekend it all was!
As I sit here on Monday morning in Florida I still can’t quite believe Round 1 went the way it did.
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I mean my first Indy pole and then a maiden win – are you kidding me!?!?!?!
It honestly feels like a dream. I’m shaking my head just thinking about it.
Even the way we did it.
A pole at the absolute death with one flying lap on Saturday.
And then the win – with the defending champ Alex Palou up our backside, and all sorts of traffic in front of us – testing us until the final turn.
But it was so, so sweet.
I remember last year when things were going bad – and they weren’t great in the middle of the year – I always knew one day the tide would turn. And turn they did.
It does go to show – the hard work – and there was SO much hard work over our winter, has paid off.
I was asked so much before this past weekend where we expected to be for Round 1 – and I’ll admit, even I didn’t expect we’d be P1 across the weekend – but deep down I knew we’d be way better than last year.
We worked our backsides off over the break to improve qualifying.
Just to get comfortable on a flyer. And I have to credit Supercars back home – the Top Ten Shootout prepares you for what we had to contend with at the end of qualifying.
We’d prepped one set of tyres should we advance – and we had one lap to get the job done at the end of the session – and I’m so pleased that we absolutely nailed the lap!
The confidence that gave me was enormous.
It changed everything. And in an instant I immediately had a belief we could win on Sunday – even though it was just our 18th IndyCar start.
Motorsport is such a mind game like that – and last year I could not cop aiming to finish 15th. People around me were telling me I was going great – but that was just not how I’m wired.
Deep down I wasn’t happy with it. I’m a racer, I want to be on pole, I want to be in the lead, I want to be winning races. And last year we had weekends where we were just miles off.
So I’m satisfied at last with an IndyCar weekend which is sweet as hell!
So much of this I have to credit to my new engineer, Ben Bretzman.
He’s so positive with me and already knows the buttons to push with me to have me at my best.
But we know how ridiculously competitive this series is – and we’re both smart enough to know we could be down the back next round if we’re not prepared properly.
It’s certainly a great start, anyway.
What wasn’t so hot unfortunately was the exit from the car in victory lane.
Oh man, I’m cringing watching the replays going A over T after the win.
My legs were just jelly – something I didn’t realise until AFTER I’d decided to jump off the car – and when I hit the ground I was immediately on my arse and it’s horrible! (please DON’T youtube it)
I got so many texts from my mates saying well done on the win, but just as many bagging the hell out of me for looking like a complete tool!
It gave the boys plenty of ammunition over beers last night!
It was great to see Roger Penske after the win – he’s been so pivotal in my career, and so supportive of me – especially last year when things weren’t going the way I wanted them to.
He had a big smile which was great to see.
It’s a great start for Roger and the entire team – the mood in the camp is awesome after what Will and I achieved with the podium finish, and Austin Cindric’s win last week at Daytona.
Thanks everyone back home for the support and the messages – I love how much of a kick out of the weekend you all got.
And as I said on the US TV coverage following the win – Karly and I are thinking of everyone back in Queensland with the floods. Take care guys.
Talk next time out at Texas!