IndyCar rookie Scott McLaughlin praises the help of four-time Indy 500 winner Rick Mears in learning the ins-and-outs of oval racing.
McLaughlin experienced his most recent run on an oval yesterday during a 17-car official test at Texas Motor Speedway.
The Kiwi posted the 12th quickest lap, averaging 218.6mph and racking up a healthy total of 233 tours.
To get to speed with understanding the unique challenge of oval racing, McLaughlin has been absorbing the knowledge of Team Penske’s advisor Mears.
Mears claimed 26 wins during his illustrious 14-year career and is one of only three drivers to have won the Indy 500 on four occasions.
“Thankfully, I’ve got Rick helping me, so I understood about timing [the turn-in] and how long it was going to take,” he told Autosport.
“That’s one of the things I like about oval racing – the details and intricacies. Oval running is something I have never done before, and I’m enjoying it.
“You’ve got to start the turn early, and how you start the turn is how you end it. I enjoy how precise you have to be. I can only imagine what it’s like on a qualifying lap, especially at Indy.
“Rick was just awesome all day. Anything I wanted to talk about, even olden days stuff, he was there. He’s a really cool guy who knows how to simplify everything when he’s explaining it.”
McLaughlin is still yet to race on an oval, with the first speedway round of the season not scheduled until the start of May.
However, he used yesterday’s test to experiment with running in traffic to gauge what he still has to learn about racing wheel-to-wheel with others so close to the wall and at such high speeds.
“Doing the traffic running all afternoon, I had a couple of little moments, caught out by the wash,” he said.
“I was in a pack with [Alexander] Rossi and Will [Power], and I turned in a little bit too late behind Rossi, got caught up in the wake and pushed out wide.
“But that’s good, that’s all stuff I’ve got to learn, and the important thing is I never made the same mistake again.
“Any clean air you can get on that wing is going to help. And because Supercars have become so aero dependent, I actually started to learn already how to get the front left or front right out into clear air to help it turn in, so that wasn’t too foreign.”
McLaughlin had the opportunity to unveil his livery for this year’s Indy 500 at the test day.
The Kiwi will be racing in the iconic Pennzoil colour scheme, which is appropriately nicknamed ‘the yellow submarine.’
It is similar to the livery Mears drove to victory lane in the Indy 500 in 1984 and 1988.
McLaughlin also showed off his Mears-inspired helmet design for May’s race, featuring the yellow and red colours to match the car.
The first race of the 2021 IndyCar season will be at Barber Motorsport Park on April 18.