Scott McLaughlin says he is at a stage where he feels as best prepared as he can be ahead of this weekend’s IndyCar season opener.
The Penske driver is making his second career race start on Monday morning at Barber Motorsport Park, six months since he last took to the grid.
Despite plenty of testing over the last few weeks, McLaughlin says little compares to an actual race.
“I have been waiting six long months to do a competitive racing event,” McLaughlin said on the Trackside podcast. “To start my career here is exciting.
“There is a bit of nerves and a bit of unknown, but as I said to my wife last night, ‘I am as prepared as I can be right now.’
“All I lack is experience, and that will come. But I feel as fit as I have ever been, I am comfy in the car, and I have all my ducks in a row.
“Hopefully, we are there or there abouts.”
This year marks McLaughlin first full-season transition from tin-tops to open-wheelers.
He isn’t the only rookie to swap codes, with seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson coming onboard with Chip Ganassi Racing.
However, McLaughlin says one of the biggest challenges to overcome will be getting used to the unique intricacies of single-seater racing.
“I’m used to banging doors,” he joked. “I can’t bang doors in an open-wheeler.
“That is something that isn’t a concern, but I am weary of learning a new racecraft in an open-wheeler.
“I am going to have to get used to the size of the car, how far the wing is in front of the nose, just little things that come so naturally to a Simon Pagenaud or Josef Newgarden. It is an unknown, but that is part of the journey.
“Unfortunately, I have chosen one of the most competitive open-wheel series in the world to do that, but what a way to learn it and learn of some of the best guys in the world.”
In May, McLaughlin will live out a boyhood dream to race in the Indy 500.
The 27-year-old recently completed a two-day open test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway but says there is still a lot left to learn before the race.
“Timing is a big thing for me,” he said. “Timing a run and using the slipstream to the best of your ability.
“I got better towards the end of the run in traffic, but understanding the wash and tuning my car when behind a car and immediately once you get past a car was new.
“I was happy that I completed so many laps. It was probably more laps than we thought we would.
“I know I got so much to learn over the month, and it won’t be until the race, or even after the race, that I would probably feel comfortable at that place.”
The Honda Grand Prix of Alabama will start at 7 am NZT, April 19.