McLaughlin gets oval run after strong COTA IndyCar test led by Power

David Malsher and Jack Cozens
Autosport
McLaughlin gets oval test after strong Austin pace
McLaughlin gets oval test after strong Austin pace

Penske's two-time Supercars champion Scott McLaughlin will take part in IndyCar's oval rookie test at Texas on Friday.

McLaughlin drove on both days of IndyCar's 'spring training' test at Austin on Tuesday and Wednesday in preparation for his debut in the Indianapolis road course race, and will be back in Penske's #2 car this week on the 1.5-mile oval.

He will join IndyCar's full-time 2020 rookies Oliver Askew (Arrow McLaren SP), Dale Coyne recruit Alex Palou and Rinus VeeKay (Ed Carpenter Racing).

VeeKay's team boss Ed Carpenter, who will contest oval races this year, is also due to take part.

Ahead of McLaughlin's oval debut, Penske's managing director Ron Ruzewski stressed not too much should be read into the Supercars champ's participation in the test.

"There's no plans in place; Scott can't race at Texas," Ruzewski told Autosport.

"He has schedule conflicts. But since we're here in Texas and he's over here with us, we're going to do some laps with him.

"I would expect him to be more in his element [at Austin] than at Texas Motor Speedway, but yes, he did a very good job."

McLaughlin's Supercars commitments at Perth, Winton, Townsville and Darwin would preclude him from Indy 500 qualifying and the rounds at Texas, Richmond and Iowa.

That leaves Gateway as the only oval IndyCar race that McLaughlin could feasibly fit around his Supercars events.

Ruzewski said Penske is yet to schedule another test for McLaughlin, whose next appearance in an IndyCar on a road course could be in practice for May's Indianapolis race.

Power tops test as McLaughlin stars

McLaughlin gets oval test after strong Austin pace
McLaughlin gets oval test after strong Austin pace

McLaughlin finished an impressive third across the two days of the Austin test, which was led by fellow Penske driver and 2014 IndyCar champion Will Power.

The two days of track time were effectively compressed into a six-hour session due to foul weather on Tuesday, but Power still set a best time of 1m46.760s, which was 0.6 seconds shy of the pole position time he recorded for last year's inaugural race.

That effort was particularly impressive given drivers were forced to obey track limits through the United States Grand Prix venue's penultimate corner.

Andretti Autosport's Alexander Rossi was second fastest, 0.2396s behind Power, with McLaughlin - who marginally outpaced his team-mate and reigning champion Josef Newgaren - 0.2631s further back.

McLaughlin made only one noticeable error, a spin at Turn 1, and was able to exploit the extra grip on offer when running a new set of tyres.

Andretti Harding Steinbrenner Racing's Colton Herta - who won last year's Austin race - was fifth, but had to sit out five minutes of the final hour after spinning into the Turn 19 gravel trap, causing a late red flag.

Between Herta and former Indy Lights team-mate Patricio O'Ward spinning his Arrow McLaren SP-Chevrolet at Turn 18, the last 45 minutes of the day were messy.

That meant not every driver could show their full potential due to red flags at inconvenient times, as well as a crowded track as the majority of cars poured onto the 3.4-mile circuit for a last-gasp chance to improve.

Simon Pagenaud ensured all four Penskes finished in the top six, while two more impressive rookie performances came from O'Ward's team-mate Oliver Askew, who was seventh, and Alex Palou in the Dale Coyne Racing with Team Goh entry.

The 2019 Super Formula frontrunner finished the day ninth, and was within one second of Power's best lap.

Austin test times

Pos

Driver

Team

Car

Gap

Laps

1

Will Power

Team Penske

Dallara/Chevrolet

1m46.7603s

57

2

Alexander Rossi

Andretti Autosport

Dallara/Honda

0.2396s

49

3

Scott McLaughlin

Team Penske

Dallara/Chevrolet

0.5027s

62

4

Josef Newgarden

Team Penske

Dallara/Chevrolet

0.5147s

53

5

Colton Herta

Andretti Autosport

Dallara/Honda

0.6069s

43

6

Simon Pagenaud

Team Penske

Dallara/Chevrolet

0.7965s

66

7

Oliver Askew

McLaren SP

Dallara/Chevrolet

0.8008s

76

8

Scott Dixon

Chip Ganassi Racing

Dallara/Honda

0.9318s

52

9

Alex Palou

Dale Coyne Racing

Dallara/Honda

0.9467s

60

10

Patricio O'Ward

McLaren SP

Dallara/Chevrolet

0.9548s

67

11

Felix Rosenqvist

Chip Ganassi Racing

Dallara/Honda

1.0193s

59

12

Marco Andretti

Andretti Autosport

Dallara/Honda

1.0782s

57

13

Jack Harvey

Meyer Shank Racing

Dallara/Honda

1.1299s

61

14

Ryan Hunter-Reay

Andretti Autosport

Dallara/Honda

1.1311s

51

15

Max Chilton

Carlin

Dallara/Chevrolet

1.2025s

72

16

Graham Rahal

Rahal Letterman Lanigan

Dallara/Honda

1.2267s

51

17

Zach Veach

Andretti Autosport

Dallara/Honda

1.2451s

59

18

Rinus Van Kalmthout

Ed Carpenter Racing

Dallara/Chevrolet

1.4595s

82

19

Marcus Ericsson

Chip Ganassi Racing

Dallara/Honda

1.5462s

65

20

Santino Ferrucci

Dale Coyne Racing

Dallara/Honda

1.6037s

52

21

Sergio Sette Camara

Carlin

Dallara/Chevrolet

1.7104s

28

22

Takuma Sato

Rahal Letterman Lanigan

Dallara/Honda

1.9293s

40

23

Charlie Kimball

AJ Foyt Enterprises

Dallara/Chevrolet

1.9322s

52

24

Sebastien Bourdais

AJ Foyt Enterprises

Dallara/Chevrolet

2.0758s

35

25

Conor Daly

Ed Carpenter Racing

Dallara/Chevrolet

2.3178s

62

26

Felipe Nasr

Carlin

Dallara/Chevrolet

4.0080s

49

27

Dalton Kellett

AJ Foyt Enterprises

Dallara/Chevrolet

4.2340s

20

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