McLaughlin's Indy 500 win chances 'as good as any rookie has ever had'

Team Penske president Tim Cindric believes Scott McLaughlin has as good a chance to win the Indianapolis 500 as any IndyCar rookie has ever had.

McLaughlin's Indy 500 win chances 'as good as any rookie has ever had'

Only four drivers have won the Indy 500 on their rookie outing in last 60 years – Graham Hill in 1966, Juan Pablo Montoya in 2000, Helio Castroneves in 2001 and Alexander Rossi in 2016.

But three-time Supercars champion McLaughlin has been strong in the #3 Team Penske in his first six races and took second in his first oval race at Texas Motor Speedway at the start of this month.

Autosport asked Cindric how he rated McLaughlin’s chances of becoming Penske’s second rookie winner after Castroneves, and what experiences the New Zealander hasn’t yet encountered that could keep him away from Victory Circle.

“He's obviously a fast learner,” said Cindric.

“Like Will [Power] said, I think you learn every year you're here, and every year you're here you put yourself in different circumstances, different situations.

"Just qualifying for the race is going to be the first step of that, where you start.

“I think it's really hard to answer that question until you see a rookie of any kind go through the whole qualifying process, because it's different than anything they've ever done before, the four-lap average and the conditions that we'll have and the falloff that you have during those runs, depending on how aggressive you are.

“I guess the only thing we've really said to Scott is just try and worry about the things you can control.

"He's a race car driver. He's a winner. He's had a taste of oval racing at Texas, obviously, and he responded to that quite well.

Scott McLaughlin, Team Penske Chevrolet

Scott McLaughlin, Team Penske Chevrolet

Photo by: Barry Cantrell / Motorsport Images

“This place, it's a long race, but yet it seems really short sometimes.

"Simon [Pagenaud] was talking about his [win in 2019] where if you're sitting in my shoes, you're wondering why he's leading so many laps, but he's learned that there's times when that's the right thing to do, depending on what car you have.

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"He wasn't going to have enough fuel to make it happen until there was a caution, and it all came at the right time, and he took advantage of that.

“I think Scott has as good a chance as any rookie here has ever had. But… you can't really put a value on the experience around here. Yeah, he's with our team for a reason."

McLaughlin himself said that despite his vast experience in Supercars and taking part in the Bathurst 1000, “not one of those things prepared me for [IMS]. It's a unique beast.”

However, he also admitted he knows a Penske car can take him to Victory Circle.

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