Scott McLaughlin credits Team Penske’s bold strategy calls for his early IndyCar success, with the Kiwi suggesting he is now a regular top-ten contender.
McLaughlin starred over the weekend at Texas Motor Speedway.
He scored his debut IndyCar podium with a scintillating drive from 15th to second. The only driver to finish ahead of McLaughlin was none other than fellow Kiwi Scott Dixon.
McLaughlin’s big break in the race came courtesy of making an early first pitstop. A timely safety car then elevated him from the midfield to sixth.
He challenged the front runners to eventually make it to third before a rapid pitstop put him second on the road.
Speaking on his Balls and Bumpers podcast, McLaughlin says his performance at Texas resulted from both a good strategy call and his overall pace.
He added that his team have been trialing with unpredictable strategies for most of the season to try and give him an edge in the race.
“In our position we can risk on strategy a bit more,” he said.
“We don’t have as much to lose as, say, our teammates just because of their pedigree and what I am doing and learning.
“We have rolled the dice a few times and had great car pace.
“I think we have been an easy top-eight, top-ten car throughout the first couple of weekends.
“In Texas, I rolled out thinking I would have a good car. Then qualifying was cancelled, so I had to start 15th, which sort of threw a spanner in the works.
“But everything then fell our way.
“It is satisfying, but you are only as good as your last race and I think we had a great weekend and being pretty realistic about things.”
In the two rounds before Texas, McLaughlin finished 14th and 11th.
He says both results were not entirely indicative of his potential, believing Texas proved he could be a regular top ten finisher.
“I think the first round at Barber we were looking at a top-eight,” he said. “But our strategy was in a bit of no man’s land.
“We had a big chat about that after the race. We were probably too conservative. We probably should have two stopped instead of three stopped.
“Then the second race in St Pete, I think we did a really good job, but I think we could have done even better if the yellows had fallen our way at different times.
“I think we are a top-ten car right now and if we can keep that help heading into the month of May that would be fantastic.”
The next race on the IndyCar schedule is the GMR Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 15.