He took to Texas Motor Speedway like A.J. Foyt digging into a 48-ounce ribeye and Scott McLaughlin is hungry for more.
Making his oval-track debut for Team Penske on the tricky 1.5-mile layout, the 27-year-old rookie from New Zealand was nothing short of superb Saturday night as he finished second and chased his hero all the way to the checkered flag.
“I’ve never been this bloody happy with second,” exclaimed the three-time V8 Supercars champion after driving a smart, steady race and scoring his initial podium in only his third IndyCar start. “I didn’t have enough for Scott (Dixon) at the end but it was cool battling with one of my all-time heroes. Two Kiwis, 1-2, that’s fantastic and I can hardly wait until tomorrow.”
Starting 15th in his PPG Chevy, moved up a couple spots and then took advantage of he first full-course yellow of the night on Lap 57. He hadn’t yet made his first pit stop so he leap-frogged several cars, got into the front que and never left — parlaying his pace and pit stops to beat a lot of big names.
“We got some good strategy from my teams and they put me in position,” he added. “I’m just happy to bring it home for them.
“The testing here (in early April) really paid off and and just getting familiar and getting a feeling for everything. My engineers got me to the point where I’m comfortable and I’m really proud of everyone on this team.”
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In winning for the fifth time here, Dixon led all but six laps and yet McLaughlin stalked him the final 40 and never fell behind more than 1s.
“I was trying hard but it’s so hard in dirty air and I was hoping there might be some traffic toward the end and I could have a run,” said McLaughlin. “I was really good though (Turns) 3-4, but couldn’t get through 1-2. But P2 is good, we’ll get a win one day.”