McLaughlin: 2022 Indy 500 crash ‘a bit of a blessing in disguise’

Scott McLaughlin during practice for the 2023 Indianapolis 500

Scott McLaughlin during practice for the 2023 Indianapolis 500

Scott McLaughlin believes he is a better driver for his experience of crashing out of the 2022 Indianapolis 500, ahead of this weekend’s 107th running of the race.

The Team Penske driver was running 11th on merit, 15 positions higher than where he had qualified, when he got loose at Turn 3 and smashed into the wall as the contest moved into its final 50 laps.

McLaughlin says he has had similar experiences during the 2023 Month of May, but has been able to catch the #3 Chevrolet, unlike 12 months ago.

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“Believe it or not, you never want it to happen, but it’s nice to have the bogey of having been in the fence now – crashing last year – sort of out of the way,” he told selected media, including Speedcafe.

“I think it’s really taught me a lot of lessons about this place and about what the car feels like before disaster in some ways.

“I’ve had a lot of those moments throughout the month where I could feel the car getting similar to how it ended at the end of the 2022 Indy 500, and I think I’ve found a really good spot with my tools and how to fix all that.

“So, it’s kind of a bit of a blessing in disguise in some ways, having that shunt last year, and I certainly feel I understand the cadence of the race and all that as well, which is certainly a big help.”

The New Zealander is also feeling at ease with the event more broadly, including how he handles the hype and pressure which comes with the cultural phenomenon which is IndyCar’s biggest race.

“I’m super chilled, I’m in a really good headspace,” he remarked ahead of his third Indy 500 start.

“It’s nice to have won a race. I think we’ve had really good speed all season; we just probably haven’t executed the way that we wanted to.

“I don’t really have any preconceived ideas of what I can or can’t do; I just know that if the opportunity comes up, I’m ready to sort of take my opportunity to win this race.

“Like I said, I’m just really, really chilled and understand the whole thing.

“Not only the race that you’ve got to understand, it’s all the off-track stuff as well.

“There’s a lot of stuff that goes on; people coming to the race, the Carb Day, the practices, the parades, the sponsor appearances … controlling all that.

“I think I’m finally in a spot here in my career where I’m sort of saying no to things, I understand things that I don’t need to do, I’m controlling my energy in that way.

“I just feel really refreshed, focused, and confident, so it’s nice.”

Track activity resumes on Thursday with a special, 15-minute shakedown session for the Dreyer & Reinbold/Cusick Motorsports and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing entries, which were involved in the post-qualifying practice crash.

McLaughlin and the rest of the 33-car field will hit the bricks again for Carb Day Practice from Friday at 11:00 ET/Saturday at 01:00 AEST, then the race itself on Sunday (Monday morning AEST).

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