Scott McLaughlin has completed his first IndyCar Series test of 2021, finishing today’s 14-car Sebring event just over six tenths off the pace of session leader Pato O’Ward.
McLaughlin completed 130 laps at the event in his new PPG-liveried Penske Chevrolet. The three-time Supercars champion circulated more than most, with only Josef Newgarden, Takuma Sato, Graham Rahal, and Will Power recording more laps.
“It was a pretty busy day,” said McLaughlin.
“My neck is feeling it definitely, after a long off-season. But, I’m happy I did the work and I’m feeling good. We’re getting closer which is the main thing. We weren’t too far off.”
McLaughlin ended the session in 14th and last position, but was encouraged by his proximity to the rest of the pack — noting too that he’s starting to feel more comfortable behind the wheel.
O’Ward topped the session with a best time of 0:51.790. Alexander Rossi, Newgarden, Colton Herta, and Oliver Askew completed the top five.
McLaughlin set a 0:52.469, placing him just five thousandths behind the next best driver, former champ Ryan Hunter-Reay. Just over two tenths of a second separated McLaughlin in 14th and Askew in fifth.
“We were down the bottom of the timesheets, but [I’m] feeling a lot more comfortable with the car,” he added.
“It’s so close, it’s the most competitive series in the world. I’m excited for more test days coming up and getting more and more comfortable with the car.”
The 2021 IndyCar Series season kicks off with the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park on April 18.