‘Egomaniac’ McLaughlin’s astonishing turnaround

It was a case of second time’s the charm for Scott McLaughlin after rebounding from a luckless first foray at Iowa Speedway.

In an up-and-down IndyCar Series double-header, McLaughlin recorded finishes of 22nd and third.

The Team Penske pilot was firmly in contention for a podium in the first leg only to lose a wheel nut late in the piece.

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That dragged him to the pit lane and ultimately ended with him finishing six laps down on leading teammate Josef Newgarden.

At the second time of asking, it was a far more favorable result as McLaughlin crossed the line third behind McLaren SP driver Pato O’Ward and Team Penske’s Will Power.

It was needed validation for McLaughlin, who believed he had the equipment to contend for a podium on the dismal day prior.

“I felt like we had a car to challenge for the podium yesterday,” said McLaughlin after his first competitive outing at Iowa Speedway.

“We managed to sort of pull it off today. Midway through the race today, the car was a bit of a handful and I wasn’t too happy.

“[My crew chief] got on the radio, calmed me down, as most of those guys on pit road do to us egomaniac drivers. Kind of brought us back to life.

“I managed to get my head down, did some really good pit exchanges, managed to get ourselves into P4 there before the last caution. Then P3 on Dixon, which was a fun pass. I really enjoyed that.

“It was a really good exchange with him all race. Hope he enjoyed it. Probably didn’t enjoy it as much as me, but it was definitely a lot of fun racing with him.”

At times, McLaughlin found himself lagging behind teammates Newgarden and Power.

Now in his second full season of IndyCar competition, McLaughlin said he still needs to work on navigating lapped traffic to the other Team Penske entries.

“In the race, Josef is just really smart in lapped traffic,” the Kiwi explained.

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“You’ve got to be really strong, pick your pass, keep your momentum up, keep your tires up. That’s what I’m still learning.

“I wasn’t that great in traffic today, to be honest. I think I can learn from that, watch some onboard and stuff.

“He’s tremendous in lapped traffic, picking the right lane. He’s just got that confidence around this place. Confidence is a huge thing in oval racing, especially a place like this.”

Although McLaughlin’s bread and butter in Supercars used to be road courses and street circuits, the ovals have been a happy hunting ground.

In his first oval race, he claimed second at Texas. Later that year he ended a seven-race run of finishes outside the top five with fourth at Gateway.

“Ovals for me, I’ve said it a number of times, I learned from a blank sheet of paper,” McLaughlin explained.

“I had great people around me, Will, Josef, Simon [Pagenaud] around me last year. Learned as it went.

“I’m really, really pumped with how we’re going, our development throughout the whole season. We’re right there.

“Unfortunately, we didn’t get those points yesterday, which would have been pretty vital. We would have been right there with the guys at the front. Didn’t happen.

“I’m really pumped with our performance on the ovals.”

McLaughlin sits seventh in the IndyCar Series standings.

The season continues on July 31 (AEST) for the Gallagher Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

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