Supercars Champion Considered for IndyCar Races in 2020

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Two-time and defending Supercars champion Scott McLaughlin drove an IndyCar for the first time at Sebring International Raceway on Monday. Team Penske president Tim Cindric confirmed that Monday’s test could have the 26-year-old make his NTT IndyCar Series debut this season. Seeing a driver perform really well their first time driving an IndyCar is really good to see. A lot of drivers are not fully up to speed after their first test because of the speed and strength it takes to drive them.

McLaughlin, who won the last two Supercars championship titles for DJR Team Penske and won last season’s Bathurst 1000, tested one of Penske’s IndyCars on Sebring’s 1.7-mile road course on Monday. The New Zealander accomplished himself really well by posting the second fastest lap time of the day, only one second slower than Ed Carpenter Racing’s newest driver and defending Indy Lights champion Rinus Veekay. 

Cindric confirmed that Penske is hoping to add McLaughlin to their driver roster for Spring Training at Circuit of the Americas on February 11-12. As well as a longer-term view of putting McLaughlin in a fourth race entry alongside Josef Newgarden, Will Power, and Simon Pagenaud at some point this season. This is a great opportunity for McLaughlin because he possibly could get to race alongside some of the best drivers in the NTT IndyCar Series. 

To me, having McLaughlin possibly driving in the NTT IndyCar Series could be a great move for Penske, but I think he should not be racing this season. Even though he performed really well in his first test, it doesn’t mean he’s ready to race in IndyCar. Was he impressive in the test? Yes, but that doesn’t mean he’s ready to do a race. Penske should wait a little bit until they put McLaughlin in an IndyCar race. If they wait, McLaughlin could keep doing more tests for Penske and can be race ready with a lot more experience in the car. If they throw him into a race this season, McLaughlin might not be ready for it and could perform poorly with very little experience in the car. 

Cindric told Motorsport.com that McLaughlin could race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course this year on May 8-9. It’s an off-week for Supercars and IMSA and it could be one of the possibilities for McLaughlin to race in the NTT IndyCar Series. Penske ran an extra car for the IMS road course race for Juan Pablo Montoya in 2017 and Helio Castroneves in 2018 and 2019, ahead of their appearances for the team in the Indy 500. Castroneves is set to race for Penske for this year’s Indy 500, but he isn’t confirmed in the fourth Penske car for the GMR Grand Prix at IMS. 

With McLaughlin’s impressive performance during the Sebring IndyCar test on Monday, I don’t think he should race this season. I think the earliest he should race in IndyCar is 2021 because he first drove an IndyCar on Monday. If Penske is interested in wanting to race him in about four months, I don’t think that’s enough time for him to be comfortable in the car and to be competitive to race. He needs a lot more testing throughout this season and he should be focussed more on his Supercars career at the moment. I have nothing wrong with McLaughlin possibly making his IndyCar debut this season I think he needs a lot more time in the car before he makes a start in the NTT IndyCar Series.

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