Having made his debut in the NTT IndyCar Series over the weekend, Scott McLaughlin has followed through by performing his first laps at the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway, as part of the category’s Rookie Orientation Programme.
It’s a programme designed to help rookie drivers get to grips with the unique nature of oval testing, via a three-phase testing format with incrementally increasing speeds each time. The three-time Supercars champion completed 88 laps in total, labelling the experience “incredible”.
“I think IndyCar did a fantastic job with how they had the rookie mileage, and you get your run in up the speeds. I felt really comfortable. I think it took me 45 laps to get flat, but I eventually did,” he told IndyCar.com.
“You see a 90-degree corner, and you’re like ‘no way I can go flat out through there. No way. And then you just hope that it sticks, and it does. Team Penske has got an awesome package here for me to build up to speed. I know what I’ve got underneath me, and I’m very lucky in that regard.”
McLaughlin noted the trust and confidence he has in Team Penske, given the vast differences between the Ford Mustang Supercar he leaves behind and the Chevrolet-powered IndyCar he climbs aboard.
“I’ve worked very hard for this, but the feeling of driving for ‘The Captain’ [Roger Penske] and having that trust from him as a racing driver, you’re built on confidence and trust. It just skyrockets when you drive for a person like him. I’m feeling on top of the world right now. I’ve ticked all my goals, and I can race in the Indianapolis 500 now, and that’s exactly what we wanted to do.
“[Indianapolis is] bigger without people in it, and I can’t imagine what 400,000 would look like inside it. I’ve only been on this sort of side. I’ve never been in this cathedral right here on pit lane, so I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like with driver intros, and all that sort of stuff. I’m super excited.”
The 2021 IndyCar Series calendar kicks off on March 7 with the Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersberg.