Scott McLaughlin is amassing a nice streak of being atop the running order as the Team Penske driver was first in Free Practice 2, qualifying, and the opening NTT IndyCar Series race at St. Petersburg before adding to the list with another P1 during Thursday’s private test on the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway oval.
IndyCar has made more downforce available at Texas, which became the focus of the Chevy-powered Penske and Ed Carpenter Racing teams in testing.
The outing, which was rescheduled from Monday after frosty conditions kept the cars in the garage, comes just over a week before the field arrives at TMS for the second race of the year. The New Zealander turned 155 laps and kept busy, with only the stoppage for teammate Will Power’s crash causing a delay in the action. Power, who finished third to open the season, was unhurt in the accident that took place while following Conor Daly, but he was unable to continue running.
“Pretty solid day just getting used to the new aero package; with the extra downforce, that was interesting,” McLaughlin told RACER. “Did plenty of miles and some traffic running.”
McLaughlin says he kept the No. 3 Chevy on the bottom lane all day and did not venture up to the unpopular second lane that TMS coats with PJ1 traction compound at the request of NASCAR.
“I didn’t risk it today,” he said. “Every time I went to go up there, say if I was on the outside of someone, I tucked in pretty quickly when we got to the corner. Definitely you can follow slightly closer with the downforce. It’s difficult. But it’s just (that) I don’t think anyone tried to run that outer line yet. I think once more people and more cars go on track, maybe we’ll get some rubber down to try it.”
Among the five, Newgarden posted the fastest single-lap speed without the aid of an aerodynamic tow with a 219.967mph tour that also served as his best of the day.
(All speeds unofficial)
1. Scott McLaughlin, No. 3 Team Penske Chevy, (220.611mph)
2. Conor Daly, No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevy, (220.261mph)
3. Josef Newgarden, No. 2 Team Penske Chevy, (219.967mph)
4. Rinus VeeKay, No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevy, (219.477mph)
5. Will Power, No. 12 Team Penske Chevy, (219.145mph)