It’s taken triple Supercars champion Scott McLaughlin just four starts to make a serious impression in the IndyCars.
Triple Supercars champion Scott McLaughlin declared he had never been “this bloody happy” for a second-place finish in his life after breaking through for his first IndyCar podium.
In just his fourth IndyCar start – and third this year – after making the switch from Supercars to full-time racing in the United States, McLaughlin shifted gears on his rookie campaign and fledging IndyCar career to finish second behind his “hero”, fellow Kiwi and Indy legend Scott Dixon in Texas.
Starting from 15th on the grid, McLaughlin pushed through the field to claim his best-ever result in IndyCar in his first race on an oval circuit.
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The 2019 Bathurst 1000 champion was in elite company on the podium alongside Dixon, a six-time IndyCar champion, after the 212-lap race at the Texas Motor Speedway.
McLaughlin screamed “woo hoo” as he crossed the finish line as the message back over the Team Penske team radio said “you’re an IndyCar oval racer now”.
“I’ve never been this bloody happy for second, I’ll give you the tip,” McLaughlin, 27, said.
“I’m really stoked for everyone (in the team) … just couldn’t quite get Scotty at the end there.
“But I’ll tell you what it was bloody cool battling with one of my all-time favourite heroes, or is my all-time hero in Scotty Dixon.
“Two Kiwis one and two is fantastic. My mum and dad are watching at home, I know for sure.”
McLaughlin made the switch to IndyCar after dominating in Supercars to claim the last three consecutive championships.
The former V8 star finished 14th and 11th in the opening two races of the IndyCar series and admitted he had to pinch himself chasing Dixon late in the race.
“The last caution period, I was (like) holy crap, I was looking at the crowd and I was getting all excited,” McLaughlin said.
“Oh man, I’m just so proud. We have done all the work and worked really hard behind the scenes to make it feel good. (There was) some good strategy … by my team and they put me in the position and I’m just happy to bring it home for them.
“I’m really proud and I just wish my family was here with me.”
Dixon said he had been watching McLaughlin chase him in his mirror, calling him “fast”.
“It was kind of cool to be racing a countryman for the last few laps,” Dixon said.
“I have this thing on the dash that tells me the gaps to cars. I probably need to take it off because it was stressing me out more than anything. I kept looking down, looking in the mirror. He was fast.”
After his first IndyCar podium, McLaughlin has what he has referred to as the “biggest race of my life” to look ahead to – the world famous Indy 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway – at the end of the month.
McLaughlin’s breakthrough podium comes as his fellow New Zealander and former title rival Shane van Gisbergen leads the Supercars championship by 139 points ahead of his teammate Jamie Whincup leading into next week’s round at The Bend.