Subscribe

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Autosport Plus

Discover premium content
Subscribe

McLaughlin wins with “happy driver strategy”, Newgarden rueful

Scott McLaughlin was left reveling in a three-stop IndyCar strategy that allowed him to charge all race at Barber Motorsport Park as Team Penske team-mate Josef Newgarden felt robbed by a severe rear handling imbalance.

Scott McLaughlin, Team Penske Chevrolet

Photo by: Jake Galstad / Motorsport Images

McLaughlin on fresher tyres and no fuel worries was able to pounce on the two-stopping polesitter Romain Grosjean when the Frenchman ran wide at Turn 5 on Lap 72, shortly after running out of push-to-pass boost.

McLaughlin drew alongside him on corner exit, and the Chevrolet easily out-accelerated the Honda-powered Andretti Autosport machine along the long drag to Turn 8.

Thereafter, McLaughlin was able to edge away and keep Grosjean at arm’s length.

McLaughlin, for whom this was a fourth IndyCar triumph, but his first of the season, told NBC: “I call it a happy driver strategy. I was a lot happier doing [the three stops]. My team advanced me to Victory Lane, we had great fuel and went past Grosjean on a little bit of strategy.

“I feel really pumped about it. Super pumped… May is going to be an awesome time for us, I can’t wait. To end April like this before the best race in the world, just super proud of my team and with Chevy we had great fuel mileage and a hell of a strategy.”

Regarding his pass of Grosjean – and Grosjean’s brilliant move down the inside of McLaughlin at the final turn earlier in the race – McLaughlin said he had no flashbacks or reticence following the pair’s clash at St. Petersburg.

“Nah, we’re racers, we get on with it,” he said. “We talked man to man, so there’s no hard feelings and we just pressed on.

“I’m glad to get a win here. It’s been coming, it’s been close.”

Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet

Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet

Photo by: Gavin Baker / Motorsport Images

Power unleashed a series of searing laps once he had gotten around the hobbled Newgarden before his third stop, having nursed his used reds and saved fuel. When he ducked out of the lead, he was able to rejoin third, and stay ahead of Pato O’Ward and Alex Palou.

“It was an extremely good day,” said the reigning champion. “When I saw so many people saving fuel there, and we’d talked about doing a three-stop, I felt it was better to do that, and my guys made the call. We were just super-fast when we got clear air; that was the key to getting up to third.

“I had a really fast car, it was a pity we didn’t start further up. Chevy did a great job with the engine.

“We’re on another championship run, we’re just chipping away here, we’re going to get a win here soon. We’ve gotta keep at it and improve in qualifying. I’m enjoying this a lot.”

Over the closing laps, Power cut his deficit to Grosjean from 10sec to under one second, but by then his second set of scrubbed alternate tyres had lost their edge.

Newgarden made what appeared to be fairly slight contact with his right-rear on Felix Rosenqvist at Turn 1 – although it was enough to spin the Arrow McLaren. Thereafter, he felt his handling was “evil” but curiously said it was more like his left rear was out of alignment.

“Right after the hit, I radioed in, and it looked fine with the [tyre] pressure but something felt odd. It was driveable on new tyres and that was masking it, the problem was that the left-rear was getting destroyed, it was asymmetrically off. We couldn’t hang on, it was bad."

Josef Newgarden, Team Penske Chevrolet

Josef Newgarden, Team Penske Chevrolet

Photo by: Gavin Baker / Motorsport Images

With his very early commitment to a three-stopper, the #2 crew jumped Newgarden out ahead of McLaughlin and he charged toward the front but the increased tyre wear was his undoing, and he ended his third stint holding up a line of faster cars, and he finished the race in 14th.

Read Also:

“I just wish we had the car we had in warm-up but this was an evil car,” said the 2017 and ’19 champion. “We were just holding on the whole race, every second half of a stint was pretty much a disaster. So what a shame: we had the winning strategy and this one got away pretty badly.

“I hate saying luck, but that and timing kinda go hand in hand. It’s certainly not been on our side, so if we’re getting that out of the way, and it’ll be great for the rest of the year, then I’m all good with it! We’ll just turn the page and go to the month of May with this incredible group.

“I felt so good this morning. I was ready for what we were doing today, that’s what makes it so demoralising, you literally had the car three hours ago and for something like this to happen, to go so disastrously, it’s just odd. I can’t even get mad about it, it’s just a strange situation. My confidence level is still sky high with this group.”

Be part of the Autosport community

Join the conversation
Previous article Grosjean: Fifth IndyCar runner-up finish “hurt” after leading so much in Barber race
Next article The power behind Honda’s American dreams

Top Comments

There are no comments at the moment. Would you like to write one?

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Autosport Plus

Discover premium content
Subscribe