McLaughlin Feels All American After Mid-Ohio Win

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, July 5 2022

Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin had a big Fourth of July weekend in Ohio. (Photo courtesy of INDYCAR)

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer

The Americanization of Scott McLaughlin now includes a Fourth of July weekend Victory Lane celebration with “The Captain” _ and hugs from mom and dad.

A chaotic Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course could not prevent Team Penske’s McLaughlin from scoring his second NTT IndyCar Series victory of the season in The Honda Indy 200. A native of New Zealand, McLaughlin held off reigning series champion Alex Palou of Spain and Chip Ganassi Racing over the final 17 laps for a margin of victory of 0.5512-seconds.

It marked the second time this season McLaughlin and Palou have finished 1-2, reprising the result of the season-opener on the Streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., where Scott won his first series race for INDYCAR and team-owner Roger Penske, aka “The Captain.”

Sunday’s win on the natural terrain layout in Lexington, Ohio, also was McLaughlin’s first in the open-wheel series with parents Wayne and Diane McLaughlin in attendance. The couple travelled to the United States in May for the 106th running of the Indianapolis 500, reuniting with their son for the first time in two and-a-half years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s amazing,” said McLaughlin, 29, who transitioned to INDYCAR fulltime in 2021 as a three-time Australian V8 Supercars champion for DJR Team Penske. “I really wanted to get a win here even more with my mom and dad here on America’s weekend.”

McLaughlin, who is married to American Karly Paone, has become an enthusiastic participant in celebrating Independence Day. “I wore a blowup eagle outfit (Saturday) night, so I think I’m going to do that every Saturday night for our race at Mid-Ohio,” said McLaughlin, who was married to Karly in Malibu, Calif., in December 2019. “It’s a significant day for America. It’s a significant day for me. Eventually one day I’ll be a U.S. citizen, and I’m proud to be here.

“My wife is actually having a massive party right now. She was…a couple of drinks under her belt, but she was having a good time. We’re very proud to be back here in America and very proud to be able to just race on a pretty awesome weekend.

“Land of the free, baby.”

The 80-lap race on the 2.258-mile/13-turn circuit produced six cautions for 17 laps, more than the previous five Mid-Ohio events combined. The 2021 race and Race 2 of the 2020 doubleheader each featured two stoppages, while Race 1 of the 2020 doubleheader and the events in 2019 and 2018 did not have any cautions.

“I’m really proud of the (Team Penske) crew,” said McLaughlin, driver of the No. 3 Chevrolet. “The car they gave me was a little hard to drive toward the end. I would love to make it a little bit easier for myself, but I’m super-proud of them. You’re thinking about fuel (over the closing laps), but thankfully Chevy gave us great fuel mileage and drivability off the restarts that allowed me to get a bit of a gap from Palou.”

The final caution on Lap 59 for contact between Andretti Autosport teammates Romain Grosjean of France in the No. 28 Honda and Alexander Rossi’s No. 27 Honda gave Palou one last chance to try to capture his first win of 2022.

“Man, it was so close,” said Palou, who started seventh. “Our No. 10 NTT DATA car was fast. We just missed it by ‘this much’ again today, but I’m super-proud. I don’t think I was good enough to pass (McLaughlin). I wish I would have gone for it, but I did not see that it was clear to do it.”

Team Penske’s Will Power, the 2014 series champion, rallied from the 21st starting spot and a Lap 1 spin in Turn 9 to finish third for his fourth podium of the season in the No. 12 Team Penske Chevy.

“Yeah, I think the lesson is that even if you don’t pass any cars today, you’re still making positions,” said Power, a native of Australia. “If you don’t make any mistakes, just to start with, and then you have a fast car on top of that and you make smart moves, you’re going to make positions.

“You can’t get too desperate _ like the first lap, that little _ that was just being in the wrong spot sort of where I spun. But yeah, these races are so unpredictable, as you’ve seen all year. If you just hang in there you’re going to end up in a good spot.”

Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus VeeKay of The Netherlands finished fourth in the No. 21 Chevrolet. Six-time Mid-Ohio race-winner Scott Dixon, a six-time series champ, rounded-out the top five in his No. 9 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.

Chevrolet has won seven of nine races run to-date and leads the Manufacturer Championship point standings entering the second half of the season. Chevrolet now sits at 102 INDYCAR wins with its 2.2-liter, twin-turbocharged, direct-injected V6 engine. However, the day’s second yellow on Lap 10 was for a mechanical failure on the No. 7 Vuse Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet of Felix Rosenqvist. The Swede was running third when his engine started hitting the rev limiter in Turn 2 and began to billow smoke.

It was an ominous sign for NTT P1 Award winner Pato O’Ward, the native of Mexico who led the first 28 laps in his No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet. However, on Lap 30, O’Ward began reporting power issues on his car. By Lap 54 O’Ward’s engine had completely lost power as it stalled at the end of pit lane. His AMSP crew pushed the car back to its pit box, where O’Ward exited and ended the streak of Mid-Ohio pole-sitters winning the race at three.

That sequence allowed McLaughlin, who started second, to inherit the lead during a round of green flag pit stop cycles on Lap 31. During those stops, rookie Kyle Kirkwood went off-track in Turn 9 in the No. 14 Chevrolet of AJ Foyt Racing.

The yellow flag flew just as green-flag pit stops cycled through, which put McLaughlin at the point. McLaughlin led 45 of the final 52 laps. Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta led seven laps in his No. 26  Honda after not pitting under caution on Lap 53 while the rest of the leaders did so. McLaughlin re-took the lead on Lap 60 and never looked back, keeping Palou in his mirrors through a series of cautions and restarts.

“Yeah, it was nerve-wracking, but at the same time I’ve been working for this,” McLaughlin said. “I’ve been studying this trying to get better and better on restarts. My cold tire pace is a lot better than it used to be; I feel a lot more comfortable with the car and being able to maximize the car and cold-out laps, cold restarts. It was difficult when Alex was on red (Firestone Firehawk alternate) tires behind me, but thankfully held on there, and then we were able to build a gap similar to what we did on the black (primary) tires.”

Indeed, McLaughlin said his comfort level in open-wheel continues to build after scoring 48 victories in the highly competitive Australian sedan series.

“Oh, it’s night and day,” McLaughlin said. “Even my experience in terms of what I want from the car, what I’m asking from the team, what I want from the car in a pit stop, wing changes _ whatever. I’m a lot more assertive now with what I want. I’m a lot more assertive with where I’m going to go. I’m not second-guessing what I’m doing. I’m just _ ‘This is what it’s going to be, and so be it.’

“Yeah, I’m super-proud with where we’re going and my development, like I said, and I think we can continue to push.”

McLaughlin said that particular trait has been passed down by his parents. “I think I get my competitiveness…I guess harshness on myself from my old man and mom,” Scott said. “Mom was pretty strict with me, as well, with schoolwork and then dad was pretty strict with me just with work ethic and making sure that I was working hard on everything.

“Yeah, every time I roll out to qualify he goes, ‘Pole is acceptable.’ He can say that all he wants but there’s always a bit of pressure with mom and dad. No, they ask a lot of me, not only as an athlete but as a person. I put down a lot to how I’ve been brought up because of them and how hard they were on me, and to accept defeat, to accept adversity, to accept victory in the right ways. It’s just amazing, this journey doing it together.”

McLaughlin’s third podium of 2022 and Palou’s fourth allowed them to close in on the championship point lead. Reigning Indy 500 champion Marcus Ericsson of Chip Ganassi Racing maintained his lead with a sixth-place finish in the No. 8 Ridgeline Lubricants Honda, but the Swede is now just 20 points ahead of Power. Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden, the series champion in 2017 and 2019, is third, 34 points back.

Palou rose to fourth in the standings, 35 points back. McLaughlin jumped two positions to seventh, 69 points behind Ericsson.

The series takes a week off before heading to Toronto for the first time in three years due to restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Honda Indy Toronto is booked for Sunday, July 17, at 3 p.m. (EDT), live exclusively on Peacock Premium and the INDYCAR Radio Network.


Andretti Autosport rookie Hunter McElrea delivered a dominant performance Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, leading all 35 laps from pole position to score his first Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires victory.

The wire-to-wire performance saw McElrea pace both practices, qualify P1 and lead Sunday’s race flag-to-flag. “I’m just relieved,” said McElrea, driver of the No. 27 Andretti entry. “I knew I could do this. This weekend, I just wanted to go back to having fun and letting everything handle itself. I can’t thank everyone who has supported me. It means a lot, and I’m just really relieved and really happy with this.

“I hope this sets the precedent for the second half of the season. I think for sure this weekend is as perfect as they get. It’s very good for the rest of the year.”

McElrea beat Andretti teammate Matthew Brabham to the finish line by 2.6826-seconds. Championship leader Linus Lundqvist rounded-out the podium in third for HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing. Andretti Autosport drivers placed all four team cars in the top five. Rookie Christian Rasmussen finished fourth in the No. 28 Road to Indy/Stellrecht car, while Sting Ray Robb finished fifth in the No. 2 Sekady.

Robb drove to fifth with an electrifying pass in the final corner on Benjamin Pedersen of Global Racing Group with HMD. Robb had been hounding Pedersen over the final laps when Pedersen locked-up his tires entering Turn 12. That allowed Robb to jump alongside Pedersen and take the position. The move cost rookie Jacob Abel a seventh-place finish, as slight contact between the two cars in front of him caused him to lock his brakes and spin into the grass in Turn 13. He finished 11th in the No. 51 Abel Speedwagon.

McElrea is the fifth different winner in eight Indy Lights races this season. He also is the third driver to score his first career win, following Danial Frost on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road-Course and Rasmussen at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis. The other race winners this season are Brabham, on the Streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., and Lundqvist, who has four victories.

Lundqvist extended his hold on the championship with his sixth podium finish to lead Robb by 87 points. Brabham rose two positions to third, 96 points back. McElrea climbed three spots to fourth, 98 points back.

Indy Lights returns to action Saturday, July 23, for the first oval race of the season at Iowa Speedway in Newton. Indy Lights at Iowa Speedway is booked to begin at 12:15 p.m. (EDT), live exclusively on Peacock Premium and the INDYCAR Radio Network.


Results of The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Presented by the All-New 2023 Civic Type R NTT IndyCar Series event on the 2.258-mile/13-turn Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):

  1. (2) Scott McLaughlin, Chevrolet, 80, Running
    2. (7) Alex Palou, Honda, 80, Running
    3. (21) Will Power, Chevrolet, 80, Running
    4. (11) Rinus VeeKay, Chevrolet, 80, Running
    5. (5) Scott Dixon, Honda, 80, Running
    6. (13) Marcus Ericsson, Honda, 80, Running
    7. (14) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 80, Running
    8. (15) Helio Castroneves, Honda, 80, Running
    9. (8) David Malukas, Honda, 80, Running
    10. (6) Simon Pagenaud, Honda, 80, Running
    11. (16) Christian Lundgaard, Honda, 80, Running
    12. (18) Graham Rahal, Honda, 80, Running
    13. (22) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 80, Running
    14. (19) Takuma Sato, Honda, 80, Running
    15. (3) Colton Herta, Honda, 80, Running
    16. (27) Jimmie Johnson, Honda, 80, Running
    17. (20) Devlin DeFrancesco, Honda, 80, Running
    18. (25) Simona De Silvestro, Chevrolet, 80, Running
    19. (12) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 80, Running
    20. (24) Jack Harvey, Honda, 80, Running
    21. (17) Romain Grosjean, Honda, 79, Running
    22. (23) Dalton Kellett, Chevrolet, 78, Running
    23. (10) Callum Ilott, Chevrolet, 57, Mechanical
    24. (1) Pato O’Ward, Chevrolet, 52, Mechanical
    25. (26) Tatiana Calderon, Chevrolet, 51, Mechanical
    26. (9) Kyle Kirkwood, Chevrolet, 28, Contact
    27. (4) Felix Rosenqvist, Chevrolet, 8, Mechanical

Race Statistics
Winner’s average speed: 101.557 mph
Time of Race: 1:46:43.3290
Margin of victory: 0.5512-seconds
Cautions: 6 for 17 laps
Lead changes: 3 among 4 drivers

Lap Leaders
O’Ward, Pato 1-28
McLaughlin, Scott 29-52
Herta, Colton 53-59
McLaughlin, Scott 60-80

NTT IndyCar Series point-standings (top-10): 1, Marcus Ericsson, Chip Ganassi Racing, 321; 2, Will Power, Team Penske, 301; 3, Josef Newgarden, Team Penske, 287; 4, Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing, 286; 5, Pato O’Ward, Arrow McLaren SP, 256; 6, Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing, 254; 7, Scott McLaughlin, Team Penske, 252; 8, Alexander Rossi, Andretti Autosport, 229; 9, Simon Pagenaud, Meyer Shank Racing, 217; 10, Colton Herta, Andretti Autosport, 212.

Editor’s Note: John Sturbin is a Texas-based journalist specializing in motorsports. During a near 30-year career with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, he won the Bloys Britt Award for top motorsports story of the year (1991) as judged by The Associated Press; received the National Hot Rod Association’s Media Award (1995) and several in-house Star-Telegram honors. He also was inaugural recipient of the Texas Motor Speedway Excellence in Journalism Award (2009). His list of freelance clients includes Texas Motor Speedway, the Dallas Morning News, New York Newsday, Rome (N.Y.) Daily Sentinel, Corpus Christi (Texas) Caller Times, NASCAR Wire Service, Ford Racing and Used Car Dealer magazine).

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, July 5 2022
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