Back-to-back oval races will put Scott McLaughlin through the wringer as he heads for the first high-banked contests of his IndyCar career.
The double-header on the Texas Motor Speedway, where speeds top 380 km/h, will punish him through 212 laps and 480 kilometres on Saturday with another 248 laps and 600 kilometres on Sunday around a track with up to 24 degrees of banking and massive G forces on the drivers.
McLaughlin has been quick in testing at both Indianapolis and Texas and said he is looking forward to racing.
“I think I’m more excited for the ovals than … the road courses, because it’s so different to what I’ve done before,” he said ahead of Texas.
“It’s so fast. Nothing that’s quite as exhilarating as going 220 miles per hour with people wheel-to-wheel.”
McLaughlin has had a rapid-fire introduction to IndyCar with midfield finishes on the Barber road course and St. Petersburg street track, but everything is new on the ovals – including having a ’spotter’, Adam Fournier, in his ears to warn of potential hazards.
“Just getting familiar with all that sort of stuff is a big thing for me. ‘Inside, outside, clear, outside is working, inside line is working,’ all the normal chat we would have.”
Even with four races packed into three weekends, he is plain excited.
“It’s perfect for a rookie. Exactly what I want.
“That’s what’s so cool with IndyCar racing, what’s so pure about it, what makes it so different to really any sport in the world,” McLaughlin said.
“We have a vast difference in tracks — road courses, street courses, ovals, big fast ovals, short ovals, and (all) require a different type of (driving), which is what I’m really excited about for this weekend.”
Racing will be the big challenge, as he learns about high-speed aero effects including buffeting, how to handle packs of cars, and even how to tweak the car for changing conditions.
“Race strategy is a big thing. The timing on an oval, understanding how hard do I dive into the corner, working out my exits so I get runs down into Turn 3 or Turn 1, when do I make a passing move, how do I save fuel on an oval?”
He knows it will be tough but he is prepared.
“I feel very comfortable, ready for the challenge.”