Six-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon says he was one of Scott McLaughlin’s first point of contact when he weighed up his decision to switch from the Supercars championship to the American open-wheeler series.
McLaughlin was linked to a possible move to IndyCar before the start of the 2020 Supercars season after being invited to test with Team Penske at Sebring and Austin. After impressing the team, Penske then offered the three-time Supercars champion a race drive in this year’s GMR Grand Prix at Indianapolis.
The race was later postponed among a coronavirus-induced calendar reshuffle. It meant McLaughlin would have to wait a further five months before finally making his debut in the United States.
It was at St. Petersburg where McLaughlin announced his decision to make the full-time switch to IndyCar after nine seasons in Supercars.
Speaking on the decision in the latest episode of Catching up with the Kiwis, Dixon revealed to host Greg Rust that McLaughlin had initially reached out to him to inquire into what the world of IndyCar was like and whether Dixon felt he would be up for the task.
“I knew [he wanted to try IndyCar] for a while, cause he texted me one time asking ‘hey, can I talk to you about IndyCar racing?” said Dixon.
“And I was like ‘come and do it man, it’s amazing.”
Dixon said he was already aware of the promising potential McLaughlin had after following his fellow Kiwi’s pursuits down under.
“I am a huge fan of Supercars. I have watched it since day dot and every weekend and I am watching all of the practice, qualifying and the races. And I am a big fan of McLaughlin and what he has been able to do.
“I knew when Penske was going down to Supercars that they were going to shake things about and probably be extremely successful, as we saw.
“But when you look at [Mclaughlin’s] stats, whether you look at his qualifying, race wins or championships, I mean the guy is a beast and he has done an amazing job.
“He has spent a little bit too much time in Australia, so we need to work on his accent a little bit – he sounds very Australian.
“But obviously he is now with a team that is very good, and it was great to see that they didn’t hinder his transition.”
Despite now a full-time IndyCar driver, McLaughlin will still maintain some of his Supercar roots with likely gigs as a co-driver in events such as the Bathurst 1000; something Dixon says he would also like to have a crack at some time.
“Bathurst would be amazing to get to at some point,” he said. “I did the 12 Hour earlier this year which was really cool. And for me it was a box to tick to have at least driven Bathurst.
“[But] it is very difficult with manufacturer contracts and just how things work out time-wise, but I am glad to have done that.
“Hopefully I will be able to get back down there again.”