Scott McLaughlin hit his target for the Indianapolis 500 when he raced to Rookie of the Year honours.
But despite the honour, which came when he crossed the line in 20th place after running as high as fourth, he was not satisfied.
“I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform at a very high level. That’s probably why I’m so pissed-off right now,” he admitted.
“It’s one of those things where you come here, you feel the energy in the place, and it certainly gives you goosebumps. You want to perform on the big stage.
“Really happy to get the Rookie of the Year honours I would have loved to have been a little higher. Feel like I could have been in the front group. Don’t know if I would have won the race, but I certainly feel I could have been a factor in the top 10.
He was tormented by a pitstop error, when he slid sideways under braking and was then hit with a drive-through penalty for speeding.
“I felt like up until that pit stop we were really solid. I was saving good fuel, the car was good. I was learning a ton.
“I made some pretty cool passes which I really enjoyed. Yeah, had a really good start, which was cool. I think I made it four-wide, which was pretty interesting for a little bit.
“One mistake just eats you. You can’t make mistakes here. It genuinely needs to be a perfect day. It’s a place that really bites you.
“I just made a simple mistake. Didn’t quite pump my brake pedal up enough. Had a pretty stone cold set of rotors going into pit lane there. Couldn’t pull up.”
Even so, he was happy to reflect on a big learning day at the end of an Indy program that netted 17th in the starting line-up as best of the four Team Penske drivers and a race when he looked comfortable and racy in the Top 10.
“We certainly were with the fast guys. That’s probably what I most gutted about because I felt like I positioned myself pretty well. It’s a mistake I don’t normally make.
“I don’t think we quite had the pace to be where Helio (Castroneves) and (Alex) Palou were. I think a good solid top five probably was begging.
“But, like I said, I’ll learn from that. I’ll turn the negative into a positive at one point. A long time in this sport hopefully.”
As he reflected on his first Indy 500 he was upbeat and positive.
“I felt like I’ve learned a ton this whole month. I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s been more positive than negative month for me. I’ve done every lap I possibly can
“It bodes well for me the rest of the season, at least for next year when I come back here. Yeah, it’s all good.”
But he knows what he needs to do next time, and he is still sitting … in the IndyCar season standings.
“Bittersweet day for me. I’m proud of everybody on the Pennzoil car, it felt good. I’ve got many more to come, hopefully.
“At the end of the day it’s a learning experience. I’ll take away these learnings and I’ll tell you what, I’ll always check my brake pedal coming into pitlane.”