McLaughlin on Mid-Ohio win: “It’s about having the belief”

Scott McLaughlin said he knew the #3 Team Penske-Chevrolet squad had another win in it this season because they had never fallen off the pace.

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After scoring a win in the season-opener at St. Petersburg, and a very close runner-up finish at Texas, the 29-year-old New Zealand had not scored a top five over the next five rounds.

However, at Mid-Ohio he started second, tracked early leader Pato O’Ward very closely over the first stint, so that he was less than 0.8sec behind the polesitter when the Arrow McLaren SP-Chevy driver pitted. McLaughlin then put in a strong in-lap, the #3 Odyssey Battery Penske crew turned him around swiftly, and jumped him ahead of not only O’Ward but also Palou who, having stopped four laps later, might have undercut him, but everyone’s pace was slowed by a full-course caution.

Aside from when Andretti Autosport mistakenly left Colton Herta out on track when another caution was imminent, McLaughlin retained the lead thereafter, soaking up all the pressure from eventual runner-up Palou all the way to the checkered flag.

“Really proud of everyone on the Odyssey Battery Chevy – the pitstops were amazing, the strategy was great, that got me out in clean air,” McLaughlin told IndyCar Radio after the race. “That was the plan the whole time – to try and jump Pato in the [pit] exchange and we did that.

“Super-proud of everyone to get win number two. We knew we had it in us, it was just about executing and that was on my end as well, so I’m really proud of everyone…

“It was tough because my car sort of went away a little bit towards the end of the race. It was good at the start but I think the track changed a little bit and when I hit dirty air, it got hard to put the power down which was making it hard to defend.

“But it is what it is, we’ll learn and move on. I think we made some changes which certainly helped us today, and thankfully we did them.”

McLaughlin currently sits seventh in the championship, 69 points behind leader Marcus Ericsson, whose Chip Ganassi Racing-Honda finished sixth today. McLaughlin described the victory as “great momentum for us, but at the end of the day, this is IndyCar: things can happen all the time.

“I think we’ve had great pace to be in the top five. I’ve made mistakes, there’s been certain things that haven’t fallen our way strategy-wise that have made us fall back a little bit, but we’ve always had the pace.

“It’s all about having the belief, the belief in the guys. We’ve got a great group here on Car #3, we’re all mates having fun – we go racing and have fun. Really proud to do it and I’m excited.”

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Mid-Ohio IndyCar: McLaughlin beats Palou, Power charges to third
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