DJR Team Penske driver and two-time Supercars champion Scott McLaughlin was set to make his IndyCar debut this year at the Indy Grand Prix during the lead-up to the Indy 500 when his plans were dashed by the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. However, he’ll be making up that missed event by contesting the IndyCar season finale at St. Petersburg.
“This is something I haven’t stopped thinking about, but I wanted to ensure my focus was on winning our third straight Supercars championship for DJR Team Penske and all our partners in Australia,” McLaughlin said. “We are still laser-focused on that and have three more rounds to get it done, but I’m equally as excited to finally get the chance and make my IndyCar debut.
“I’ve been doing everything I can to keep up with the series this year, from watching as many races as I can on TV to even talking to the drivers and some of the engineers back at the Team Penske shop. I never knew if I would be able to get behind the wheel of one of these cars this year due to all the COVID-19 restrictions, but I wanted to be ready if it became an opportunity.”
The Grand Prix of St. Pete takes place on October 25, a week after McLaughlin will contest the Bathurst 1000. Time zone differences mean McLaughlin will likely have ample time to recover from jet lag before he gets behind the wheel, but it’s still going to be a challenge in and of itself for the New Zealander.
McLaughlin has been rumored to be in the running for a full-time seat at Team Penske for the 2021 IndyCar season, but nothing has been confirmed.
That said, the fate of the Grand Prix is still up in the air. COVID-19 forced the race to reschedule from March to October, but cases in the area are on the rise as schools have reopened.
IndyCar postponed its rescheduled Mid-Ohio event after cases in the area began to spike just a week before the event. While Florida does seem adamant about getting life back to normal, there’s still a possibility that the race could be cancelled, leaving McLaughlin high and dry.