CHEVROLET RACING IN NTT INDYCAR SERIES
GRAND PRIX OF PORTLAND
PORTLAND INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY
TEAM CHEVY RACE RECAP
SEPTEMBER 4, 2022
SCOTT MCLAUGHLIN PUTS TEAM CHEVY IN VICTORY LANE AT PORTLAND INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY
THIRD WIN OF THE SEASON PUTS NEWEST TEAM PENSKE DRIVER IN THE RUN FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP AT THE SEASON-ENDING RACE FOR THE NTT INDYCAR SERIES AT WEATHERTECH RACEWAY LAGUNA SECA
PORTLAND, Ore (September 4, 2022) – With one race remaining on the schedule, qualifying and every pass for position in today’s Grand Prix of Portland was vital. The battle for the NTT INDYCAR Series Championship coming to Portland International Raceway was tight with seven drivers mathematically eligible, separated by 58 points.
Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin found the path of least resistance to gaining maximum points by starting on the pole and winning the race! The driver of the No. 3 Freightliner Chevrolet won his third race of the season by 1.1792 seconds over teammate Will Power in the No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet.
McLaughlin led 104 laps of the 110-lap race. McLaughlin is fifth in the standings heading to next Sunday’s race in Monterey, California, 41 points down to points leader Power. He is the last driver mathematically eligible to capture the title.
Power continues to lead the points by 20 points over teammate Josef Newgarden, No. 2 Hitachi Chevrolet who finished eighth today.
Pato O’Ward, No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet, finished fourth to give Team Chevy four of the top-four.
Scott Dixon (Honda) completed the podium. In addition to all three Team Penske Chevrolet drivers, Dixon and Marcus Ericsson are the drivers eligible to capture the Championship next weekend.
The season finale for the NTT INDYCAR Series season will commence Friday with final race on Sunday, September 11th at Weathertech Raceway at Laguna Seca.
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER QUOTES
SCOTT McLAUGHLIN, NO. 3 FREIGHTLINER TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET, RACE WINNER: “I don’t think the car really felt good in that first stint but as the race went on, it got a little bit worse. I just had to really concentrate on where I wanted the strengths of the car to be and work with those and make the best of the weaknesses. The Freightliner Chevy all weekend has been fast. It’s been right there where we needed. This team – the Thirsty Threes – got the job done in the pits, and I’m really proud of them. We did exactly what we needed to do this weekend, which was win and get max points to keep ourselves in the championship fight. Yeah we’re a longshot. I don’t care because we have a shot so I’m looking forward to it.”
COULD YOU IMAGINE YOURSELF HERE TWO YEARS AGO? “Roger (Penske) and Tim (Cindric) gave me the opportunity to come over here and I was thankful for that. It was my next step and my next challenge. I took it all very seriously and knew it was going to be hard. I thought I could one day I could win, but the ultimate is to win a championship and the (Indy) 500. I’m not going to stop until I get one of those or both. It’s a long way to climb but you have to have goals. It’s the same for everyone out there. You have to dream big and try to get it done.”
THE CHAMPIONSHIP IS STILL ALIVE: “I’m a big golf guy and the big media spot is actually at Pebble Beach so I’m really excited for that! I wanted to be in the championship fight so I can go to Pebble. It’s working out and we’re going there! I’m so excited. I think Greg (Penske) told me I could play Pebble so all good as long as I can bring some friends!”
YOU HAD ENOUGH ENERGY TO DO A FRONT SOMERSAULT! “It’s become my thing now. I don’t think I look very good doing it, but it’s a thing. Everyone has their own thing when they win and I have that. It’s a lot of fun! I’m really proud of the Freightline Chevy guys. The car was unreal and I’m really proud of the pitstops. It was a full-team effort. We came here with the belief that we could do this weekend and win like we did and get pole, and we did. I’m really proud of that.”
ON THE RESTART WITH WILL POWER AND SCOTT DIXON BEHIND: “Those are two guys you don’t really breathing down your neck. I’m really proud of the restart. I’ve worked very hard the last couple of years to learn the tire and get it ready for those restarts. Thankfully we held on. It was pretty dicey behind me. I saw in the mirrors that Will almost got taken out. It was pretty wild but that’s why we love INDYCAR racing, right?”
ON THE POINTS HEADING TO LAGUNA SECA: “It ain’t over so let’s press on!”
WILL POWER, NO. 12 VERIZON TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET, FINISHED SECOND – ON TIRE CHOICES: “The red was a lot better for us. The black tire just never really came on and we never really had a good balance with it. It was a tough decision because those reds had a lot of laps on them, but I still feel like we would have been quicker over the stint. It was the right move and a good move. It would have been tough on the restart without it, so it was a good call by the guys. We had good strategy all day. If (Christian) Lundgaard hadn’t gotten us at the start, we could have had a shot at Scott. It’s another day where we did everything we could. We had a little get-together with Pato (O’Ward) so luckily that came out alright. I just want to win this championship for the guys who have been with me for more than a decade like my engineer Dave (Faustino) and my data acquisition guy Robbie (Atkinson) and the group. It’s a lot less selfish for me this time around because they deserve it. I feel their pain over the years of losing so many. I’d love to win it for them.”
A TOP-THREE FINISH DOES IT FOR THE CHAMPOINSHIP AND GOING INTO LAGUNA SECA LEADING BY 20 POINTS: “That’s very tough. Ganassi has tested there. We’re in the best position and have the best shot. We’ll do everything we can.”
PATO O’WARD, NO. 5 ARROW MCLAREN SP CHEVROLET, FINISHED FOURTH: “We had to come out with the win to truly have a decent shot at it (the championship) headed to Laguna. We didn’t have enough for the Penske boys. All weekend they dominated everybody. I tried to make the pass on Will and we had an injured left side of the car for the rest of the race and had to nurse it from there. Graham (Rahal) was coming behind us pretty quick. We had to let (Scott) Dixon by because apparently we blocked him. I expect INDYCAR to make the same call whenever someone does that to me.”
THE FAN SUPPORT AT PORTLAND: “It’s awesome, these people. It’s not just here but a lot of them come to Long Beach and it’s awesome. Everyone from Mexico that lives here in the States come out and bring their full support. It’s awesome to see. This is what it’s all about. I’m glad we gave them a good show today.”
JOSEF NEWGARDEN, NO. 2 HITACHI TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET, FINISHED EIGHTH – ON THE LAST TIRE CHOICE: “I think the obvious one was that we didn’t predict the caution. There’s always the risk that a caution comes out in that final stint. I wasn’t thinking about that; we went green the entire race. I thought the primary tires would probably have better durability at the end. That argument holds up a little better with no caution. We just got hosed when we had to restart with all reds (around him). I was blown away at how much better everyone was on them, especially in the caution situations. That just did not play into our favor, unfortunately. It’s a hard day where we really gained nothing after a tough start spot. We’ll regroup and take our Team Chevy car with Hitachi to Laguna and try to be fast.”
GOING INTO THE FINALE 20 POINTS OUT OF THE CHAMPIONSHIP: “At this point, it just kind of is what it is. We’re going to try to win that race and go for broke. It’s been kind of a weird year. Everyone has done such a great job on this 2 car. I’m so proud and happy with everybody. They’ve really put a good effort together. It’s either been winning the race or some weird luck has happened. We didn’t need that yellow. Obviously it helps some people and hurts others. We just seem to be on the odd end of these things and they’re not working out. I don’t know how Laguna is going to play out. We’re going to go and play to win. We’ll see what happens.”
CALLUM ILOTT, NO. 77 JUNCOS HOLLINGER RACING CHEVROLET, FINSHED NINTH: “I’m really happy with that one. I think we maximized everything we could on the strategy we had so ended up P9. Great race with no mistakes. It was a good car and big thanks to the team. All the guys worked hard this weekend to get it a bit better after qualifying. So it was a pretty good race. We’ll move on to Laguna next week. Hopefully we can carry this momentum forward.”
FELIX ROSENQVIST, NO. 7 ARROW MCLAREN SP CHEVROLET – FINISHED 10TH: “We started the race really good but had a tough second stint on the primary black Firestones because we couldn’t get the tires to warm up and get going. Ultimately, we were probably on the worst strategy of the race. I think one driver did better on that strategy than us, but everyone just ate us up, track position-wise, on that second stint. We came back and finished P10 – which was decent – but a bit disappointed in that result.”
KYLE KIRKWOOD, NO. 14 SEXTON PROPERTIES AJ FOYT RACING CHEVROLET, FINISHED 13TH: “Made it all 110 laps. We definitely were on the right strategy and probably just missing a little bit of pace. We ultimately finished where we started. The strategy got us forward and the pace kind of brought us back a little bit, so it ended up equal with where we started. I’m super-happy with that because we brought the car home and got some good points there ahead of the people that we need to be ahead of. You can’t be any more satisfied than that, and we’ll go into Laguna next week with heads high and hopefully finish off the season strong!”
RINUS VEEKAY, NO. 21 BITCOIN RACING WITH BITNILE ED CARPENTER RACING CHEVROLET, FINISHED 20TH: “First of all, I want to apologize to Jimmie Johnson and his team, as well as my own team, for screwing that up. I thought I was fully past him, but it was bad judgment and I was not. This is definitely a hard pill to swallow because we were having a good race. I was comfortably in P9 and I think maybe a couple more positions were possible. It’s really tough. The only thing I can do now is learn from this and end the season strong at Laguna Seca. Again, I am sorry to everyone that was hurt by my mistake.”
DALTON KELLETT, NO. 4 K-LINE AJ FOYT RACING CHEVROLET, FINISHED 22ND: “A bit of a tough weekend overall for us. Never seemed like we quite found the pace for the K-Line car from the start of the weekend to the race. It felt like we were kind of dealing with a bit of understeer that we couldn’t quite get rid of. During the race we were trying to make some adjustments around the stops and with the tools in the car to deal with that, but it kind of persisted throughout. So we feel like we probably needed another three- or four-tenths to be more in the mix of where we wanted to end up. But it was a good clean race. We came home without any issues and now look forward to wrapping the season up at Laguna Seca next weekend.”
CONOR DALY, NO. 20 BITNILE ED CARPENTER RACING CHEVROLET, FINISHED 25TH: “If you’ve followed my career a long time, you know I’ve been on fire a few times. This one for some reason was weird. It felt like it was in the cockpit, and it was kind of nerve-wracking for awhile. I felt like my shoulder was burning but I could see the fire was going out so I was like, ‘Let’s just keep on going.’ I was hoping that science and wind would take care of the rest of it. It’s just such a shame. The car was really fast and I had a great start. With everyone from BitNile here, we really want to get them a good result. It’s just such a shame. So many things have been taken away from us that they’re out of our control. That was not fun but hopefully we can just finish strong at the next one.”
YOU COULD HAVE CONTINUED PHYSICALLY BUT IT JUST BURNED UP THE CLUTCH? “Yeah the clutch burned up. And we honestly had no idea how much fuel was in the car, as well. We were going to stop more and be out of contention anyway. But yeah the clutch was burnt up. Usually fire does damage, and apparently that’s what happened. It’s such a shame.”
PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
THE MODERATOR: Wrapping up the Grand Prix of Portland here at the gorgeous Portland International Raceway. We’ll be joined by the podium finisher just walking in. Second place finisher, of course, Will Power driving the No. 12 Team Penske Chevrolet. For Power it’s the second runner up finish of the season. Eighth podium of the year. 93rd podium of his still young career. Leads a championship now by 20 points over his teammate Josef Newgarden as well as Scott Dixon.
WILL POWER: It was a great day, obviously. Good finish. Could have been much worse, I think if Lundgaard didn’t get us at the beginning there on the east tire. So spent the day kind of closing that gap to Scott that we got when we were stuck behind cars.
Solid day. Still a very tough fight. We’ve got to come up to Laguna seriously ready. Yeah, as you know, in this series it switches incredibly quickly. Got to be smart.
THE MODERATOR: You had a slight chance to clinch. A lot of things would have had to happen. At the beginning of the day if somebody said you will increase your points lead heading into Laguna, you would take that, right?
WILL POWER: 20 points, I would have taken it. Can’t complain.
THE MODERATOR: Scott comes home third, moves up 13 spots back now to a tie for second. Remarkable comeback. You go back to the month of May and the 500 double points that you didn’t get and to make a comeback like this to be 20 points out of the championship. Tell us about your day and, man, you’re in the hunt now for a championship. No. 7 next week.
Q. Will , it’s been a difficult track to gain position at. How important is qualifying going to be on next Saturday?
WILL POWER: It’s like every weekend. First thing it does is keep you out of trouble in turn one. Obviously, the second thing it does is put you at the front. It’s a tough track, man. Like, it’s a hard track to get the car right. You’ve got to understand what you need.
Q. I think in a year where youth was showcased so much, it’s going to be fought out between three veteran experienced drivers. How fitting is that to see that kind of determine the championship?
WILL POWER: Yeah, we’ve got ten years to go, don’t we?
WILL POWER: I can’t tell you how much experience does play into it, though. Over a season, over even a race, it makes a big difference, and that’s why you see the championship as it is.
There’s definitely some super quick, young fast guys. What is putting the whole thing together is the experienced bit in my opinion, and you don’t even have to be the quickest guy. You have to be experienced and smart and, obviously, a great team as well makes a difference.
Q. Which series? I’m going to ask this, and then I’m going to ask Will. Are you surprised at all no team orders there at the end to get you that win?
WILL POWER: I get it from the standpoint that Scott is in. I’ve been there, and you don’t want to give up a win. What’s that?
Q. (Off microphone)
WILL POWER: I don’t think he gave it up. He didn’t make it easy, and he didn’t make it up with — that his best buddy, so he is probably going to do that. I think Scott just got a good run on him. I mean, Joe has got a good run on him there. Obviously, 10 points, 11 points would make a big difference. You wouldn’t be having to finish third. You would have been having to finish eighth or something.
Q. (Off microphone)
WILL POWER: Absolutely. I was on the radio asking for it.
WILL POWER: I don’t know. Yeah, 10, 11 points would be great. I think we go in there pretty confident that we could get it done. 20, it’s still a big fight, yeah.
Q. Will, is part of that experience knowing how not to get taken out when Pato O’Ward — he kind of sent it there on that restart from a long way back.
WILL POWER: Yeah, he sent it straight into me and gathered it up and came out the other side. That’s a good season, man. Someone does a dive bomb like that, and you get away with it. Yeah, it’s good. Not a good move, but expected in his position for the championship.
Q. But does experience help you somehow be able to absorb that? You had to do something to make it not worse.
WILL POWER: I left as much room as I could. Inside, inside, and I kept going further, and, bam, he hit me over the curve. I didn’t expect it from Pato, though. He is usually a pretty good racer, pretty smart racer. He was probably needing to win the race to have a shot at the championship, so he probably just went a little bit too far.
THE MODERATOR: I’m not sure the correct geographical term. All Down Under, all Oceana, all whatever podium. I think that’s the first one. I can’t think of another one, can you?
WILL POWER: Is it? No? First one ever? Yeah. First one ever. Wow. Boys from Down Under showing up. Chickens come home to roost, huh?
Q. This one is for Will: How is Team Penske going to manage all the championship possibilities knowing that you’re fighting for the title and knowing also that probably Scott McLaughlin will be fighting for that win alongside you?
WILL POWER: Yeah. I think that he is definitely in a position that he will just have to help simply. I don’t think there will be any question about it.
SCOTT McLAUGHLIN: I came in at the wrong time.
THE MODERATOR: F
Joined now by the champion of today’s Grand Prix of Portland, driving the No. 3 Freightliner Team Penske Chevrolet with his third victory of 2022. Second road course win. Moving up to fifth in the standings, by the way.
When it comes to the standings, you’re 41 points back right now. The last time we’ve had five drivers going into the finale that close, you go back 19 years ago in 2003 when there were five drivers in the IRL days going to the Texas Motor Speedway. They were separated by 30 that year.
It’s going to be an exciting time I think going to Laguna. Maybe you’re going to be playing golf at Pebble, which we can talk about later.
SCOTT McLAUGHLIN: I’ll be playing a lot of golf this week. I was nervous because I could feel a blister brewing on my hand. I’m, like, I don’t know how hard I’m going to be able to hold the stick, but we’re good. I think it’s good. We’ll pop it tonight and press on.
THE MODERATOR: All right. That’s the best news out of this so far.
SCOTT McLAUGHLIN: Absolutely.
THE MODERATOR: Led 104 of the 110 laps. Dominating fashion. Congratulations.
SCOTT McLAUGHLIN: Thank you. The car was phenomenal. Got a good start. Just for us the whole day, weekend went to plan. We racked up with a car that just needed a massage, like I said, on Friday. I was able to work on myself and then qualifying came around, and we put on pole. We saved a set of tires, reasonably good set of tires, for the Fast Six. We used that and got the pole.
Then I knew today that my first stint was going to set everything up. That’s exactly what happened.
I’m not sure what happened behind me. I knew that I couldn’t control what was behind me. All I could do is control what I did. It went to exactly to plan.
THE MODERATOR: The restart with, what, 21 laps to go. You had Will. You had Pato. You had a bunch of other guys breathing down your neck. How did you stay out in front of everybody on that?
SCOTT McLAUGHLIN: No, I was pretty calm about everything. I knew I just had to get a reasonable run off the last corner and try and break the toe a little bit going into turn one, but didn’t want to overshot turn one.
Then I saw in my mirror that Pato and Will were side-by-side. It looked dicey. When I saw that happen, I knew the first lap for me was going to be huge to try and break a gap.
That’s exactly what happened. I got to 1.6, and that’s sort of how it was the rest of the race. That was really my time that I had to make up. I had to make hay on that lap, and we did.
THE MODERATOR: Questions in person for Scott McLaughlin?
Q. Scott, obviously, you dominated and led all but four or six laps or something. Dixon was a little surprised there was no team orders there to get Will that additional 11 points. Will said he was calling for it on radio. Was there any talk on your radio at all or anything?
SCOTT McLAUGHLIN: No, they said that they would — at the end of the day it was completely circumstantial. It’s pretty obvious what position you’re in if you do need to give up. I told Will before the race that I would fight him cleanly, and I think that’s all he expected.
I didn’t know he was asking for team orders, a switch or whatever, but I can’t control that. I just drove my race, and I’m a team player. I’ll do whatever I need to do, but for me I think the best thing we could do was win the race, either car. I think that’s exactly what happened.
Q. The way you did dominate, if that call had come, would that have been tough to swallow?
SCOTT McLAUGHLIN: Not really. Everyone knew that I would have been the true winner, so …
Q. You mentioned you were testing. The biggest thing you learned is trying to learn to be a caliber contender as far as the championship. You’re still in this with one round to go. Does that mindset change at all considering this is an opportunity you may come out of there as champion if the cards go in your favor?
SCOTT McLAUGHLIN: Yeah, but for me it’s just controlling what I can control. I can’t do much more than that, and I think I’ve done that the last half year. I just go out there and just drive what I’ve got. I think Detroit for me was a big turnaround. I made a mistake I shouldn’t have made, and that was because I was trying to overdo everything and control everything. It was a big mindset change.
From then on we’ve been really strong. I think we did some graph out there the last eight or nine races. We were leading the championship by 29 points.
I think what we’re doing right now is building for a massive year next year. I haven’t finished out of the top five or top four for the last six events or something. I’m feeling really strong. There’s no reason why this can’t be great momentum for next year, and yeah, I feel like I’m driving the best I ever have in my whole career right now.
I feel really comfortable and comfortable with the team. That’s what you need to tackle championships, especially in the series.
Q. Given your position in the championship and kind of piggybacking off what Louis asked, are you going to take more risks going to Laguna Seca than if you were only three or four points behind Will?
SCOTT McLAUGHLIN: I have nothing to lose, but at the same time I want to do the best job for my team. I don’t need to be a Kamikaze or anything like that, but I just need to focus on what I’m doing and just dot my Is, cross my Ts, and have a good run.
Ideal weekend is a pole race win. It’s no doubt that I can go to Laguna Seca and win, and I’m ready to do that.
Q. Were you surprised how clean everything was in one?
SCOTT McLAUGHLIN: I said to him today, I said, I bet you we’ll with go caution-free for most of the race. I’ll tell you the numbers later. Genuinely, I knew where I was going to go, and I think it was the right call by all drivers to go early out of the last corner to spread the pack a little bit.
Like I said yesterday, we’ve been banging on about it for two, three weeks. You would feel like an idiot if you were the one that crashed into everyone. So, yeah, everyone took a chill pill.
Q. For the six laps you didn’t lead, can you walk us through that from your point of view?
SCOTT McLAUGHLIN: I felt like I led every lap. Just the way the strategy felt, I knew that it was just cycles and stuff that at the end of the day that was just — we were kind of leading. We just weren’t officially. For me it was just those laps that you don’t lead are almost the most important ones because they’re the in-and-out laps. They’re your exchange laps, getting up to speed, and I feel like we’ve been really strong all year.
Q. The first half of the race you had a good distance between you and Will, but at the end of only five laps to go he came close. Like, less than second. Did you start to worry about him?
SCOTT McLAUGHLIN: No, I was pretty chill. I just knew what I needed to do. Just keep hitting my marks. I was controlling the race.
I knew that we were far enough in the stint that if he got any closer, he was probably going to hit his front tire, and it was working in my advantage, and I had a heap of overtake left as well.
I was just driving to that and not trying to burn myself up. And I just didn’t know if there was any lap traffic coming. I didn’t want to catch anyone. Yeah, for me it was just drive consistent, hit my marks, and make it happen. For me the start of the race, that really set up the race for us.
I think pulling five or six seconds on everyone behind us, that was the buffer we needed for the rest of the race.
Q. On a less serious note, any good stories about Crusher that you can tell? Maybe, what he means for the Australian motorsport and what he has done for guys like you in his career?
SCOTT McLAUGHLIN: Crusher was one of the first people I met when I was a very young kid, and he started listening to me when I said I wanted to go to Supercars instead of Formula 1. That wasn’t a bad thing, but I think a realistic thing for anyone in my position.
At that point I wasn’t going to any time soon. We’ve gone through lots of ups and downs. He has seen me lose championships, win championships, win races. He has seen me win my first race.
Awesome to have him here and have Trudy here as well. I wish they would come to Laguna, but they’re going to Arsenal on Monday. They’re going to have a lot of fun. He is a key figure in motorsports. Australia’s biggest news source. That’s really put motorsport in Australia on the map.
THE MODERATOR: Speaking of Crusher, he confirmed what we were thinking. If he says it, it’s got to be right. Look to your left and right at the podium. It was an all Australia, New Zealand podium. First time it’s happened in the INDYCAR Series. For the young aspiring drivers watching, what does it mean for them?
SCOTT McLAUGHLIN: For me to share a podium with those two, it’s pretty cool. I knew the battle with those guys towards the end of the race is always awesome.
I could see Dixon. Of course, he is right there, of course. It’s super cool. Two of those guys, I looked up to, and I think massive for Australia and New Zealand motorsport.
These West Coast times are actually really good for Australia, New Zealand, where it’s not too early in the morning like the other ones. Yeah, it’s really cool.
Q. Scott, Will mentioned before that he thinks you might have to battle at Laguna Seca this coming weekend. Are you willing to help Will or Josef, or are you still prioritizing your own?
SCOTT McLAUGHLIN: I think it’s all circumstantial. I think I’m a Penske driver. I fit the mold, and if I need to do what I need to do, I am a full team player. Yeah, ideally, I would love to just go, but for me I need to pole and race win and have some fun.
If things happen, yeah, I’m ready to do what I need to do for the team.
Q. They were talking on the brake about how you had to learn to transition from right-foot braking to left foot and get that dialed in, which is no easy feat to pull off. What was the moment that just everything clicked for you? Was it during the offseason, or was it midseason, and what was it that just made it all sort of come together for you?
SCOTT McLAUGHLIN: I think I’m still getting used to left-footing a little bit. There’s certain corners, especially on this track this weekend, that I’m still struggling with compared to Josef and Will. Just how much left foot — how much brake to use and stuff like that.
I’m still a little bit getting used to all that, where I’m definitely a lot better. I said that a lot through conferences through the year. I think Nashville last year is where everything started to click, and we started turning results around.
Although my qualifying wasn’t fantastic, I always felt my racing was good. I feel like every race this year we’ve been in contention.
I’ve either made a mistake or the team might have had a tough pit stop, but just really proud of how we’re running year two. I think it’s a massive jump. I feel like a new person. Yeah, Josef has won five. I’ve won three. We’re the most, which is pretty cool.
Q. You joked earlier about having to make that decision between looking at Formula 1 and Supercars when you were younger, but you’re kind of regularly beating drivers who were actually linked with Formula 1 at the moment. Is that something that has crossed your mind or something that you have been able to digest?
SCOTT McLAUGHLIN: No. I haven’t even thought about it. I’m enjoying INDYCAR right now so much. Sure, I would love to drive a Formula 1 car and test one, whatever, but I’ve found a really good home here in America. I’ve found a really good home with Penske, and I would be hard-pressed to go anywhere.
Motorsports is a weird game sometimes. You never know where you will end up, so I would never say never, but at the end of the day that’s a bucket list item to drive a Formula 1 car, regardless of who you are.
I’ll just keep hammering over here and have a lot of fun doing it. It’s been a ball. I feel like a different person, man. I’m so happy. My wife is so happy. It’s just cool. I’m just having probably the best time of my life, even throughout the championship winning years with DJR, which is so much fun. I have so many good friends from that.
The time right now trying to find speed within myself and beating Will, Scotty, other people, it’s a ball. Yeah, yeah.
Q. I know we asked you a lot about your expectations through the year and through this whole journey that you’ve had, but you’ve one three races this year. Knowing that’s the same that Alex Palou won in his championship year last year, you know, is that something that you have comprehended that was possible for this season that you would be at least winning three races and being in championship contention at the end of the season?
SCOTT McLAUGHLIN: I thought we could be a little bit of a underdog and creep up on everyone there. Three races is huge. I wanted to get at least one, but we managed to obviously win three, which is awesome. Like I said before, for me it’s just we’re building some serious momentum for next year, and I’m learning a ton.
I feel like a completely different driver even from the start of the year at St. Pete. I just feel a lot more complete. Like I said before, I feel like I’m driving the best I have my whole life. Hopefully that means good things for next year, and we can work together as a team. Like, the team cars are unreal to drive. It’s hard work from all three of us, and I’m proud to be doing the job.
Q. You showed a lot of pace in the whole race, but then after the race start, you were maintaining the pace around a second against Will. How hard was it for you?
SCOTT McLAUGHLIN: Look, it was a tough race. The pace was so high, especially with a three-stop strategy. It’s basically just go, go, go. Maybe a little bit, but not much.
I just felt like that last stint we just really — I got that gap, and I just controlled it from there, so that was just for me the most important thing and I’m really proud of it.
Didn’t really put a foot wrong. To lead as many laps as we did was an awesome achievement for us, all the team strategists. Really proud of everyone. Yeah.
Q. Just to finish it, if you couldn’t choose yourself, who would you like to win the championship?
SCOTT McLAUGHLIN: Roger Penske (laughing).
Yeah, Roger Penske. I’m not answering that question. I’ll get myself in a lot of trouble.
Q. Just having a chance to go to Laguna here in the final race of the year to have a shot at a championship, I know we’re just an hour since you took the checkered flag, but have you had a chance yet just to kind of reflect on everything that you have accomplished through the 16 races this season and your second season in INDYCAR?
SCOTT McLAUGHLIN: It’s pretty wild. I’m tremendously proud to be going in with a mathematical chance. I’ve said many times last year was hard, and mentally draining and hard on my wife, hard on — it was hard on her because she saw me upset and just not happy, but there was also a time where I was going overboard in terms of unhappiness because I felt, like, very hard on myself. I always have been, but it was just a hard year.
When we won St. Pete, it was like, Okay, well, maybe I can do a little bit more. And then with my guys, engineer Ben, you know, it’s very cool. I just am really grateful to be able to just compete for Captain and compete and win and do him proud. Any time you see him and he is coming up after the race, it’s very cool.
It’s just a huge turnaround. Really proud. I think like I’ve said before, it’s just creating momentum for next year, which I believe I can go into next year and compete for the championship the whole way through.
Q. This year with this team with nine wins across you three guys over the first 16 races, having two drivers really in the thick of the championship fight and the third in you that still has a mathematical shot heading to Laguna Seca, has the end of this season with Team Penske guys more in the thick of the championship felt any different just from your observation from last year where Josef was kind of in it, but still a bit of a long shot and the other three of you guys were out of things?
SCOTT McLAUGHLIN: To be honest, it actually feels way more relaxed. I was trying to teach Will how to play golf this morning before the race, just how to swing a club, stuff like that. We just chill out and have fun.
I think we’re all in a bit of head space because the cars are really good, and we’re proud of everyone for how hard they’ve worked to get us to that point, but we know it’s INDYCAR, and things can change in an instant.
Definitely before practice and stuff, it’s a little tense. Everyone is a little on edge. What’s going to happen; what’s going to happen?
For the most part, we just have a lot of fun, and I think it’s the whole name of the game. Just go out there and do your job and have fun.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Nathan. It will wrap things up. Wrapping up the Grand Prix of Portland. Congratulations, Scott McLaughlin, his third win in 2022. And the season 2023 can’t get here quick enough for you, so bring did on. Back here next year. Thank you, Scott.
SCOTT McLAUGHLIN: Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
124405-1-1878 2022-09-04 23:57:00 GMT
123503-1-1004 2022-08-07 00:05:00 GMT
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