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IndyCar Mid-Ohio

McLaughlin “sick of getting overcut”, returns favor to IndyCar field

Team Penske driver was determined to not get beaten by pit strategy, vowing to stay out later than everyone and vaulted from sixth to third at Mid-Ohio

Scott McLaughlin, Team Penske Chevrolet

Scott McLaughlin, Team Penske Chevrolet

Photo by: Phillip Abbott / Motorsport Images

The IndyCar Series results have been feast or famine lately for Scott McLaughlin, and on Sunday a strategy to work the overcut worked in his favor for a third-place finish at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Starting sixth in the No. 3 Team Penske Chevrolet, 31-year-old McLaughlin quickly moved up one spot shortly after the start of the race by passing Marcus Ericsson at the first turn.

He then opted to stay out two laps longer than anyone else on the two-stop strategy, taking advantage of the clear track to click off quick lap times before finally pitting on lap 30 and returning to the action in third – two spots higher than his placement before the pit cycle.  

The New Zealander stayed out at least one lap later than anyone else in the field during the second cycle, pitting on lap 56 and coming back out far away from any battle ahead or behind.

In the end, he finished a distant third at 16.1558s behind race winner Pato O’Ward and nearly 7s ahead of fourth-placed Colton Herta, who he vaulted past in the first round of stops.

It is the second podium for McLaughlin over the last three races and fourth of the season, having also recently placed third at Road America before a painful 21st at Laguna Seca – which stands as his fourth finish of 20th or worse on the year.

“Yeah, it's been up and down for us, as everyone knows, the last few events,” said McLaughlin, currently eighth in the championship standings.

 “Nice to get another solid result and hopefully we can go into Iowa where we know we'll probably be pretty quick. Just a matter of putting it together over this next little bit to the end of the championship.

“I've really enjoyed the hybrid integration. I've really enjoyed learning it throughout the weekend and through the race.

“But we made a lot of ground in that first stint, overcut these guys. I'm sick of getting overcut myself, so I was like, ‘stuff it, I'm going to be overcutting’. I think we were the last one to pit, and that's probably where we led our laps.”

Scott McLaughlin, Team Penske Chevrolet

Scott McLaughlin, Team Penske Chevrolet

Photo by: Josh Tons / Motorsport Images

And being in no-man’s land allowed McLaughlin an opportunity to learn more with the hybrid unit, which made its race weekend debut at the 2.258-mile, 13-turn road course in Lexington, Ohio.

“I just lost so much time in that first stint, but ultimately I was just trying to maximize my day in that first stint by saving as much fuel as I could, and I just jumped the guys in the overcut, but then these guys were all the way down the road,” he said.

“It was actually honestly a bit of a testing issue for me. I was trying different things with the hybrid, push-to-pass, all that stuff. It was actually really cool.

“Learned a lot of things, we got points, and hopefully we can use it later down the track, whether it's next year or end of the year.”

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