Scott McLaughlin eyes future Indy500 drive after taking part in iRacing IndyCar Challenge as Alexander Rossi and Tony Kanaan look forward to August event.
Ever since he burst onto the IndyCar scene with a test at Sebring just a few short months ago, Penske Supercars driver McLaughlin has been rumored to be a future Indy500 participant, if not a future winner of the ‘Greatest Spectacle in Racing’.
It’s something that all drivers up and down the field would like to see, but none more so than McLaughlin himself, as the young Kiwi has had his eyes set on IndyCar since childhood, and never yet had the chance.
“Look, Indianapolis, for me I’ve grown up idolizing Scotty Dixon and knowing what Indy500 race has been about for a long, long time, from a New Zealand perspective,” said McLaughlin to media including FormulaRapida.net.
“Just the speed of the place, the amount of people that are involved on race day, I was lucky I went to the 100th running in 2016, and then I went a couple years ago for Carb Day, and it just blows your mind, either day, and I’m really privileged, obviously, to race on it in virtual reality, but yeah, really excited to hopefully get a chance one day in real life.
“I’m just interested in InydCar, which includes ovals. I’m interested in being the best driver I can possibly in the future to be a part of the championship. Ideally I’ve got to learn a lot in real life. I had my first test at Texas a few months ago, and that was pretty mind-blowing, the speed and speeds that I have never been before.
“I can only imagine what Indianapolis is like in real life, but yeah, that dream will have to hold for a little bit.” McLaughlin will have to wait until 2021 at the very least to make his Indy500 debut, with Penske notoriously only running four cars at any given point.
Apart from their regular IndyCar championship drivers, Helio Castroneves is filling the fourth spot for the 2020 Indy500 race, set to be run in August after it was pushed back from its original date of May 26 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The delay of the event will have major implications, perhaps modifying the entry list, but certainly changing the racing itself, the latter topic being one highly discussed among Indy500 veterans, Andretti’s Rossi and AJ Foyt’s Kanaan.
“One, I thought a lot about how hot it’s going to be, that’s the one thing I’m not looking forward,” said Rossi. “Ultimately it’s the same for everyone. You’ll just have to adapt to that challenge with the way you set up the car, kind of go through your preparations, which will be a little bit different than we’re used to in May.
“Beyond that, I think it’s going to be spectacular. Everyone talks about the hundredth running as being this kind of coming of age of the Indy500, bringing it back to the forefront of people’s minds. When things get taken away from society, from people, you start to gain such a big appreciation for it because you don’t get to do it anymore, you miss it.
“I think when the Indy500 finally does come back, there’s going to be that kind of same buzz and excitement that we felt for the hundredth. The anticipation is there. It’s just building and building and building each day and week that people can’t go to the racetrack, can’t do what they love, and want to do.
“I think it’s going to be really exciting and really spectacular. In a way, I think if we do our jobs right, we can make it one of the biggest Indy500 ever,” Meanwhile, Kanaan said the following of the positive changes that he expects: “I think honestly when it comes August, it doesn’t matter what month it is.
“Once you’re in indy500, once you get to the track, spending two weeks there doing your thing, it doesn’t matter what day of the week or month of the year it is. It’s still going to be May, August, whatever that is. I’m excited. I think Alex says it right. It has a big potential to be probably one of the best races ever. I’m not talking about competition, qualifying.
“It’s just because we’re going to be so thrilled that we’re out, everybody can do their thing with whatever the rules are going to be. If we’re going to have 10 people or 400,000 people, I believe the excitement is going to be over the top. All of us, I believe, I can talk about myself, are a lot more appreciative of the time that we missed.
“This thing leveled us to the same level. Everybody’s at the same level. It doesn’t matter how much money you have, how big or small your house is, it doesn’t matter. Hopefully, we come out better, we appreciate things more than usual, normal things, wake up, and leave your house. I got in the car this morning. Actually I will now.
“Indy500 has a big potential to be the best one ever, I think.” IndyCar season is on course to start at Texas Motor Speedway on June 6, after an extended off-season that will have lasted nine months by the time the race gets underway in just over two weeks’ time.
The season finale is set for St. Petersburg on October 25, and while the rest of the calendar remains the same as the most recently-released schedule, with the race at Texas Motor Speedway starting the season in June, there could be one change after Toronto requested a date change as Canada can no longer hold it on July 12.
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