It’s just four races into Scott McLaughlin’s IndyCar career and already he looks like more than just a rookie blow-in from Supercars.
As if his first podium place in only his second race was not enough, McLaughlin has now joined the elite group of IndyCar speedsters who are considered when the talk turns to the Fast Six.
McLaughlin made the cut during qualifying for the Indianapolis road-course race and will start the GMR Grand Prix from fifth on the grid.
He was not the most impressive rookie at Indy, as grand prix refugee Romain Grosjean scored a stunning pole position, but he was in another class to NASCAR legend Jimmie Johnson who tailed the field.
Scotty Mac also did a much better job than Will Power, who could only qualify 12th, although his Penske team mates Josef Newgarden and Simon Pagenaud also made the final group for qualifying.
“First Fast Six for me today. Really proud of the effort,” said McLaughlin.
“Didn’t quite maximise the lap in the Fast Six but to start fifth tomorrow is fantastic. The car is really quick. Coming to grips with the track pretty fast.”
His reaction was a polar opposite from Power, who ranted and swore and threw his HANS device after failing to advance to the last stage of qualifying.
“I’m just having a hard time qualifying right now,” said Power.
McLaughlin reported solid progress for the race, which starts at 4.30am Australian eastern time on Sunday morning, as he worked his way into contention for his third-row spot.
“We were methodical all day. We just slowly chipped away at it and we turned up with a really good car for qualifying,” he said.
“I’m learning the car every time. I didn’t quite get the lap in the Fast Six, but it takes a bit of time to bring the adrenaline down. That’s what I found just then.
“You get so excited, you’re in the Fast Six, and then you’ve got to settle yourself down and get your mind back on the job.”
McLaughlin also took time to salute Grosjean.
“But awesome story for Romain Grosjean to get a pole position. I think it’s a great thing for the sport, a great thing for him. We know what he’s been through,” he said.
“Pretty cool for a couple of rookies having a dip.”
And what about his prospects for the race?
“I think the PPG Chevy is going to be pretty strong. See what we’ve got.”