Scott McLaughlin says he learnt “a tonne” over the past two weeks after easing home to a 20th place finish in his rookie Indy 500.
The flying Kiwi was running comfortably in the midfield, and at one stage, was nestled inside the top ten.
Unfortunately, he was dealt a drive-through penalty for pit lane speeding, which demoted him to the rear of the field.
Despite the costly error, McLaughlin still managed to finish the 500-mile race on the lead lap.
It was a stout effort from a driver who only experienced his first go at oval racing earlier this year and only re-acquainted himself with single-seater racing this season.
“I felt like I’ve learned a tonne this whole month,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed it.
“It’s been more positive than a negative month for me.
“I’ve done every lap I possibly can. It bodes well for me the rest of the season, at least for next year when I come back here.”
McLaughlin finished the race as the highest-placed rookie, with the only other debutant in the field, Pietro Fittipaldi, in 25th.
“I’m pretty stoked to get the Rookie of the Year,” McLaughlin said. “That was the main goal.
“At the same time, I had a really good car today. It’s just a little, like I said, bittersweet.”
Reflecting on his penalty, McLaughlin says it was merely a basic mistake resulting from trying too hard.
“One mistake just eats you,” McLaughlin said. “You can’t make mistakes here.
“I just made a simple mistake. I didn’t quite pump my brake pedal up enough.
“I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform at a very high level. That’s probably why I’m so p….d off right now.”
Should the pitstop drama had not occurred, McLaughlin believes he still didn’t have the pace to be within a chance of winning the race.
“I think we were semi in the front pack.
“I don’t think we quite had the pace to be where Helio [Castroneves] and [Alex] Palou were.
“I think a good solid top-five probably was begging. But like I said, I’ll learn from that.
“I’ll turn the negative into a positive. [I have] a long time in this sport hopefully.”