Scott McLaughlin looks back on a ‘pinch me’ weekend racing in IndyCar and watching NASCAR at The Brickyard in his exclusive Hired Gun column for Speedcafe.com.
Hi again folks,
I write this on Monday morning after an awesome weekend at the track.
It was obviously helped with a great run for Car # 3 on Saturday – with fourth a strong points result – and great for all Team Penske cars to be in the top five, especially with Josef cleared to run after his injury last week.
But then I got to turn race fan yesterday and sit back and watch the NASCAR race.
It was an awesome show – and I was lucky to have great access – watching on from my team-mate Ryan Blaney’s pit box for much of the day, and spending a bunch of time with Roger Penske roaming around IMS throughout.
A real ‘pinch me’ day!
I know the finish was slightly controversial – but the action NASCAR puts on is unlike anything else in motorsport.
It was awesome fun.
And that’s a lot like what IndyCar is dishing up every week right now.
Our race on Saturday was run at a million miles an hour – honestly it feels like every lap of our races now are run at qualifying pace.
Which is quite the challenge when you’re dealing with rubber that is absolutely cooked!
It’s an unbelievable test – and it’s taxing and mentally draining (I’m absolutely fried post-race) – but I’m having so much bloody fun!
I’m loving it over here right now.
And I’m just loving being in the car each and every week.
Indy was our third straight week racing following Toronto and Iowa – with a fourth ahead this week at Nashville.
So, it’s a grind for the crews – but it’s super to get consistency and continuity in the car.
Which leads to this past weekend.
We had some confidence after our podium last week in Iowa on Sunday – so I was really optimistic of a good showing.
That was enhanced after we rolled out straight on the pace in opening practice.
But unfortunately, we just missed qualifying which is a massive bummer – and we were stuck down the back.
We took a real swing at the race starting back in 15th and made massive gains – starting on reds, we were able to race our way through the field and the car felt magnificent.
A Caution came at the best time and we jumped on the backs for a super short second stint – and then we were stuck behind Will Power for much of our last run and kind of just held station.
So, it was great for him to jump to the championship lead with his third place – and to be fourth after starting 15th is about as good as we could have hoped for… I absolutely would have taken that at the start of the day.
It was super important to have a good run in the Gallagher colors in their race – that’s really crucial to Roger.
And I just want to give my Thirsty3 crew a collective pat on the back – last week at Iowa we weren’t at our best, but they were bulletproof this weekend – at the absolute top of their game.
I’ve been blessed to be teamed with them.
So, a couple of solid runs – but unfortunately, we still remain stranded seventh in the standings.
Hopefully if we can have another good run next week, we can continue to compile points.
Thinking back over the weekend, I couldn’t recommend it more to anyone – especially those back home – to come over for this weekend.
To catch an IndyCar and NASCAR double-header is so unique.
And the Brickyard is the most magical place – I know the boss owns it, but it’s looking a million dollars right now so it is well worth the visit.
I loved it – I’m sure you will as well.
And then go to Nashville – trust me that place is awesome!
The organisers blew us all away last year with their inaugural running of the street race – and we’re hearing great things that it will be even bigger and better next weekend.
We have opening practice Friday – and I think the parties all start tomorrow!
It’s a mega party town so it’ll be wild come Sunday night!
Thanks for all the messages – I read everything as you all know… I’m on my phone too much as Karly tells me daily!