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IndyCar Laguna Seca

McLaughlin “hit everything but the pace car” at IndyCar finale

Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin persevered through an afternoon of mayhem en route to a runner-up result in Laguna Seca and finish third in the IndyCar Series standings.

The 30-year-old Kiwi started second but involved in an opening lap crash in Turn 2, which pushed him down the running order and onto pit road for service.

It didn’t take long after the ensuing restart on Lap 6 of 95 for him to make hard contact with the back of a slowing Benjamin Pedersen, with race officials reviewing the incident but ruling it a racing incident.

Despite falling as low as 19th early on, as he required a new front wing, he charged back to run eighth by the time another restart on Lap 36. But he was penalized for avoidable contact shortly thereafter when he hit the back of the #14 AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet and sent Santino Ferrucci for a wild ride through the Turn 1 gravel before rejoining entering Turn 2.

McLaughlin dropped back down to 18th, but with eight cautions spanning 35 laps in total, he was able to methodically work his way back forward, dodging crashes on multiple restarts to rise up to fourth by Lap 74.

With Pato O’Ward and Romain Grosjean forced to pit for fuel, it put him in a battle with Juncos Hollinger Racing’s Callum Ilott for second, which he solidified four laps later.

“I think I hit everything but the pace car today,” McLaughlin said. “Certainly one of those crazy days, peak IndyCar days.

“Yeah, super pumped. Things that didn't go my way, things I probably shouldn't have done either, but we just kept our heads down and kept working. Yeah, took the fuel when we needed, pitted when we needed to. Just slightly came back through.

“I think I had one really good restart where I picked off sort of six or seven cars. I was just hauling. So much fun. Thought I maybe might be able to have a crack at Scottie at the end. He was just too fast. I knew if I finished second, I was most likely going to be top three in the championship. That ultimately was my goal coming into this weekend.”

Scott McLaughlin, Team Penske Chevrolet

Scott McLaughlin, Team Penske Chevrolet

Photo by: Jake Galstad / Motorsport Images

The result was his third runner-up in the last seven races, with his victory at Barber in April his only other podium on the year. That said, he closed out the last 11 races by finishing in the top 10 in each, including six top fives.

As a byproduct of his finish in the final race of 2023, he finished a career-best third in the championship – best among Chevrolet-powered drivers, including team-mates Josef Newgarden and Will Power.

“For me it's just a pride thing,” McLaughlin said. “More importantly, we wanted to be the top Chevy team, beat McLaren, and we did that.

“I wanted to beat my team-mates. Ultimately ticked both those goals.

“I talk about beating our team-mates. We had a serious good camaraderie between the three of us. It's very competitive. It gets tense at times. That's what you want in a relationship.

“I think we all push each other to new levels. To beat those two is a proud moment.”

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