The lone practice session on the streets of St. Petersburg were trending in the right direction for the newest NTT IndyCar Series driver, but Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin learned, just like most rookies, how difficult it is to master Firestone’s fastest tire in qualifying.
“I think we were probably a little bit better from where we were then where we ended up, but I stuffed up my red tire lap,” the New Zealander said. “Just getting used to that grip again. It was nice in practice. I was able to have a heap of black tire runs, but then, once we put the reds on, I just only got one hit on it. So, it was the same in qualis. I’m not making any excuses; just need a bit more time and we’ll be OK. But yeah, I’m disappointed with myself, but it is what it is.”
McLaughlin posted the 10th-fastest lap in practice on Firestone’s primary (black) tires, but closed the session on the alternates (red) where multiple mistakes prevented the No. 3 Chevy from putting an unencumbered lap together. The struggled continued in qualifying where McLaughlin was left 21st on the grid for his series debut.
“Yeah, it’s tough,” he added. “Very intimidating in regards to just having a go in an Indy car, learning the space around you as well … trying to find the limits in a fast-forward sort of motion. But I thank everyone at Team Penske; it’s been an awesome initiation. We’ll just come back and have a go tomorrow.”