Scott McLaughlin’s biggest supporter just might be the person he drives for in the NTT IndyCar Series.
Roger Penske is an unabashed fan of Team Penske’s Rookie of the Year, who enters his sophomore season with a new race engineer in Ben Bretzman and expectations to make more trips inside the top 10 with the No. 3 Chevy.
While there’s plenty of pressure for McLaughlin to perform at the highest level and deliver meaningful results throughout his second IndyCar tour, it’s all self-imposed. Penske says he isn’t placing grand expectations for his three-time Australian Supercars champion to match the output of his vastly experienced teammates Josef Newgarden and Will Power.
In fact, The Captain says McLaughlin doesn’t need to worry about his future in IndyCar, which speaks volumes about the faith Penske has in the 28-year-old from New Zealand.
“McLaughlin came with no experience at all and it’s a building year,” Penske told RACER. “I think he did a did a great job last year and we’ll look for him to grow. But we have a long-term contract with him, so there’s not even a discussion about his place in the team; the discussion is about supporting him and seeing him perform at his highest capability.
“It’s no different than Jimmie Johnson. Jimmie hadn’t driven an IndyCar either, and both of them got better as the season went on. In fact, McLaughlin finished second at Texas last year and he was running very well at Indy and had some very good finishes. We’re 150 percent behind him.”
Penske’s also a fan of having Bretzman move over from Simon Pagenaud’s former Team Penske entry to call the engineering and driver development shots with McLaughlin.
“They seem to have really gelled,” Penske added. “Ben is a smart guy and had good success with Pagenaud. I asked them about how they thought the testing went at Sebring, and they’re clearly working very well together, so we’re excited about what’s going on there.”