Scott McLaughlin is silently confident he can snare victory in Monday’s Indy 500.
The Kiwi slotted himself 17th on the grid in qualifying for his rookie running in the famed oval race.
Only four newbies have won the Indy 500 on their debut attempt. The first was Graham Hill in 1966, while Alexander Rossi was the last to do it in 2016.
Despite only qualifying mid-pack, McLaughlin understands that the 500-mile race is one of endurance, and winners can come from anywhere, granted they are within the lead battle in the final few laps.
“You can be in positions to win the race from anywhere on the grid; things have just got to fall your way,” McLaughlin said.
“Sometimes you get a lucky yellow, sometimes you get a bad yellow, or strategy doesn’t quite work out.”
McLaughlin is not unfamiliar with important races being won and lost in the final stint.
He compared the Indy 500 to the Bathurst 100 – another race where starting position means little if you can work yourself towards the front with solid pace and strategy.
“It’s kind of like Bathurst in that it’s about buying that ticket to be somewhere near the front in the last stint,” he said.
“If we can get it all right on the day, we have the pace to maintain a good position.
“I think I can put myself in the position to be somewhere near the front with strategy and with some passing.
“I back my ability if I get to the front and have the chance to win, I feel like I can definitely grab a hold of that.”
McLaughlin has only raced on an oval twice in his career, and he has already claimed a podium.
He finished runner-up to Scott Dixon at Texas Motor Speedway in an incredible Kiwi 1-2.
Now, McLaughlin hopes he can repeat a similar result, albeit with the intent to lead Dixon to the chequered flag.
“It’s amazing to have two New Zealanders battling for one of the world’s biggest prizes.
“As a country, in sport, we have always punched above our weight. Scotty [Dixon] is a legend here, and, man, he’s been fast this week.
“He will be very hard to beat, but I will try and come through, and beat him and make it a Kiwi 1-2.”
Dixon will start on pole for the fourth time come Monday, though he has yet to claim a second win since his triumph in 2008.