Scott McLaughlin passed his North American audition with a statement-making performance on Monday in Florida. Strapped into the No. 3 Team Penske Chevy Indy car, the New Zealander shook off a decade of open-wheel rust and lapped within a few tenths of reigning Indy Lights champion Oliver Askew at the Sebring short course.
Now, Sebring’s popular testing circuit isn’t the most demanding thing in the world, and it’s hard to use a single test as the springboard to new frontiers in racing. But it was clear for all to see that the reigning, double Australian Supercars champion and winner of the country’s greatest race — the Bathurst 1000 — for DJR Team Penske has the potential to reach higher in the sport.
At 26 years old, Penske’s Supercars star is younger than all three of his NTT IndyCar Series pilots, all four of his IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship aces, and two of his three NASCAR Cup Series drivers.
With some from Penske’s stable nearing the end of their illustrious careers, don’t be surprised if McLaughlin gets the call from The Captain to drive something different from his Ford Mustang GT in the near future.
“I think today was an opportunity,” the Kiwi told RACER after turning over 140 laps in the 750hp twin-turbo V6-powered Indy car. “I’ve done some cool stuff with Roger and the team back in Australia, like the championships, and Bathurst. And I said to him mid-last year, ‘Oh, I’m open to having a crack at an Indy Car.’
“And it all sort of happened within a few months. So I’m thankful for that.
“Whether it goes somewhere or not, I’m not sure. But I’ve always been interested on racing outside of Australia — especially now that I’ve ticked my goal off of winning the Bathurst 1000 and a couple of championships.”
McLaughlin could be a perfect fit in one of the championship-winning Acura Team Penske ARX-05 DPis in IMSA, or Penske’s championship- and Indy 500-winning Chevy Indy cars; and there’s no denying his desire to expand his horizons beyond Supercars.
“Like I said, I’m just taking (the test) as an opportunity, whether it goes anywhere or not,” he added. “I’ve made it really clear to the team that I’d love to try and pursue opportunities here in the ‘States. And I’m just really happy today went well.”
Enjoy the rest of the conversation with McLaughlin below: