McLaughlin figuring out Iowa Speedway

Scott McLaughlin

Scott McLaughlin is figuring out how to get around Iowa Speedway, according to his victorious team-mate Josef Newgarden.

Newgarden got Team Penske its fourth win in a row on the 0.875-mile tri-oval, and his fourth there in total, in the opening race of this weekend’s IndyCar double-header.

The two-time series champion was widely regarded as the pre-event favourite and, despite missing out on pole position to Will Power in the other Penske entry, he led 208 laps out of 250.

Even Power, who would take the chequered flag in third position, quipped post-race, “Newgarden has four wins, probably five tomorrow, unless I can do something.”

The Tennessean, however, maintains that he is hardly counting on another romp in Sunday’s (local time) 300-lapper.

He cited how his team-mates, as well as McLaren SP’s runner-up Pato O’Ward, are now coming to terms with the tricky Iowa circuit.

“I think it gets harder every year I come here,” said Newgarden.

“’16, we won the race; I felt like we demolished the field. It was like taking candy from a baby; it was stupid.

“Every year since, it’s just gotten harder. Feels like everyone is figuring it out. You can’t have a mega advantage on somebody forever. They slowly start to figure it out.

“You can see it with Will. Will has figured out how to finesse this place.

“Obviously there’s a certain style, a certain technique everywhere we go that you find success with.

“Scott is the same way. I think McLaughlin was picking up on what I was doing around here.

“Not just those guys, I look at Pato. Pato was not easy to beat today.

“We put the hammer down with 20 or 30 [laps] to go; before that, he was coming like a freight train at 30 laps to go.

“I was like, ‘Who is this McLaren coming up on me?’ I was asking for feedback on that because he kind of snuck up on me.

“I don’t feel like it’s an easy beat-down anymore.

“If we mis-step, we’ll get beat.

“That will happen tomorrow if we are not on our game.

“I don’t feel like we have an advantage anymore.”

McLaughlin’s performance was especially notable considering his only previous Iowa experience was last month’s test.

The New Zealander was running fourth on merit when he had to pit with 76 laps to go due to a loose wheel, and would get home six laps down in 22nd position.

“A pretty unfortunate day for the #3 Freightliner Chevy team,” he said.

“We were running pretty strong, and the car was feeling good, and then end up with a loose wheel after a pit stop.

“That took us out of contention, but we still finished and got some points.

“Overall, it could have been a lot better day, but we build as a team and this will make us stronger.”

The second race of the weekend starts tomorrow at 05:30 AEST, when Power will be on pole again.

Stan Sport’s live and ad-free coverage kicks off again at 05:00 AEST.

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