By Sarah Handy, Staff Writer
Team Penske has announced that Scott McLaughlin will make his much-awaited NTT INDYCAR Series debut in the 2020 series finale on October 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg.
McLaughlin, a two-time and the defending Supercars Champion for DJR Team Penske was set to make his series debut at Indianapolis Motor Speedway earlier in the year. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic things had to be shifted around.
Prior to the pandemic, McLaughlin participated in the IndyCar Series preseason open test at Circuits of Americas in Austin, Texas. He went on to run consistently during the test, even posting the third-fastest time for the test session.
“This is something I haven’t stopped thinking about, but I wanted to ensure my focus was on winning our third-straight Supercars championship for DJR Team Penske and all our partners in Australia,” said McLaughlin.
“We are still laser-focused on that and have three more rounds to get it done, but I’m equally as excited to finally get the chance and make my INDYCAR debut. I’ve been doing everything I can to keep up with the series this year, from watching as many races as I can on TV to even talking to the drivers and some of the engineers back at the Team Penske shop. I never knew if I would be able to get behind the wheel of one of these cars this year due to all the COVID-19 restrictions, but I wanted to be ready if it became an opportunity.”
Earlier this year, McLaughlin made his virtual IndyCar debut when he competed in the iRacing Challenge, winning two races in a full field of current NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers while actual on track racing was on a hold.
In only his fourth season competing for Team Penske, McLaughlin ranks third in the organization’s all-time wins list, he only trails Brad Keselowski and Mark Donohue.
McLaughlin currently leads the SuperCars points standings with only three rounds of competition remaining on this years schedule. Earning a series-best 10 wins and 10 poles he holds a 143-point lead over Jamie Whincup heading into this weekend’s event at The Bend.
3 rounds, 7 races to go, starting this weekend – Let’s Go! 💪🏻 #1743 pic.twitter.com/XAiaxXAd6Z
— Scott McLaughlin (@smclaughlin93) September 16, 2020
Overall, in his Supercars career, he has won 53 races, 71 poles and helped DJRTP claim team championships in both 2017 and 2019, respectively. In addition, he has also won the drivers’ championship the last two seasons as well.
“Our plan has always been for Scott to run a race in the INDYCAR SERIES this season, but we never wanted to take the focus away from the main goal, which is winning another Supercars Championship,” said Team Penske President Tim Cindric.
“COVID-19 certainly altered those plans early on, but with the way the schedules have lined up at the end of this season, St. Pete became an available option and we remain committed to getting him some INDYCAR seat time. We know Scott is ready for this challenge and this should add even more excitement to the 2020 season finale in St. Petersburg.”
Scott McLaughlin will pilot the No. 3 Shell V-Power Nitro+ Dallara /Chevrolet at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on Sunday, October 25. The race can be seen live at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC.
Take 2… Didn’t think I’d get the chance this year, but can’t wait to join Team Penske in the US a week after the Bathurst 1000. St Pete is such a cool race track and I can’t wait to hustle it around there in the Indycar! pic.twitter.com/NNHxWW0xcN
— Scott McLaughlin (@smclaughlin93) September 17, 2020
Photo Credit: Barry Cantrell / NKP