By Christian Koelle, Staff Writer
Scott McLaughlin nearly found himself in victory lane at St. Petersburg on Sunday for the second straight season.
That line right there just lightly glances over just what went down Sunday during the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding. Scott McLaughlin and Romain Grosjean battled hard during the end of Sunday’s race, a little too hard though as contact between the two just before the backstretch sent them into the tire barrier. Grosjean received the brunt of the damage, sending him to the garage and relegating him to an 18th-place finish.
— INDYCAR on NBC (@IndyCaronNBC) March 5, 2023
As for McLaughlin, he was handed over a penalty for avoidable contact. The Team Penske driver had to drop to the rear of the field but battled his way past Conor Daly, the only other driver a lap down at the finish, to earn a 13th-place finish.
“Very sorry to Romain (Grosjean),” said McLaughlin. “He’s a friend of mine. I know we were both going for the win there. I just made a big mistake. I tried to push on cold tires. I just didn’t have the grip on the inside (on the primary) as I did on the greens (alternate). Locked the rears. Unfortunately, we made wheel contact that time and it took us both out. Look, I don’t race like that. I apologize. I feel I had plenty of good battles with many good drivers. I just got to thank my DEX Imaging Chevy crew. The car was great. My fuel mileage was great. You have your good days, you have your bad days.”
— Scott McLaughlin (@smclaughlin93) March 5, 2023
The 13th-place finish for McLaughlin becomes his first finish outside the top 10 since the first Iowa Speedway race last summer where he finished 22nd. The finish isn’t however the worst finish for the Team Penske driver at St. Petersburg as he earned that in his St. Pete debut in 2020 where he finished 22nd after a crash.
The NTT Data IndyCar Series takes the remainder of the month of March off, returning at Texas Motor Speedway on April 2nd for the PPG 375. In three starts at Texas, McLaughlin has two second place finishes including in last years edition. McLaughlin leaves St. Petersburg 11th in points, 31-points behind points leader Marcus Ericsson.