The Kiwi was plucked out of Australia to move to the United States and race for front-running IndyCar squad Team Penske at the end of 2020.
McLaughlin made an emphatic start to his full-time single-seater career in 2021, finishing second on his competitive oval debut at Texas Motor Speedway.
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However, a seven-race run of finishes outside the top 10 and top 20 had him questioning his ability while teammate Josef Newgarden was vying for the title.
A year later, McLaughlin can call himself a two-time IndyCar race winner and has a bag full of podium finishes.
His latest success came at the most recent round where he was third behind race-winning stablemate Newgarden and Rookie of the Year contender David Malukas.
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Asked what his aspirations were for 2023 amid an upswing, McLaughlin replied: “We’re going to the moon! I’m feeling good. I’m loving IndyCar. I’m just really proud of everything.
“Last year was hard,” he said of his mental battle.
“There were times last year where I was like, ‘well, what am I doing here? I’m running around the back, hanging out’.
“I’m in a really fast race car. I’m just really proud to be able to do it for the team. Pit stops have been unreal. I’m working with some really good people.
“I’ve got some great teammates and the people from America have been really nice to me. Excited for what the future holds.”
Former IndyCar full-timer turned commentator James Hinchcliffe said the future bodes well for McLaughlin given his steep trajectory.
“You figure the progression that we saw from Scott McLaughlin from year one to year two, I can only imagine what year three is going to look like,” said the Canadian.
“Another incredible run for this guy and the Penske organisation.”
McLaughlin might have had the win at World Wide Technology Raceway if rain had persisted.
Scott McLaughlin beats ex-F1 ace to IndyCar pole position
Racing was stopped for two hours due to inclement conditions. McLaughlin had been leading at the time and would have won the race if the circuit hadn’t dried up.
Instead, he was overtaken by Newgarden the lap the race restarted and then with one lap to go was done by Malukas.
Nevertheless, McLaughlin was humble in defeat.
“That’s oval racing, we love it, we want more of it,” said the 29-year-old.
“Dave’s move on the last lap, credit to him. He’s a phenomenal young kid and I hope he goes far. The way he’s been coming up the ranks, getting into the Fast Six, he’s been great all year. Full credit to him.
“He was coming and I was a little loose. I got a bad run coming off three and four. I took the inside line, he took the outside and the grip was still there. Helluva move man.
“Good points for us. The Oddysey Batteries Chevy felt awesome. Glad we put on a show for the fans.”
The IndyCar Series has just two rounds remaining at Portland International Raceway and WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca on September 5 and September 12 respectively.
Will Power continues to lead the series on 482 points. He holds a slender three-point advantage over Newgarden (479), while Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon (468), Marcus Ericsson (465) and Alex Palou (439) occupy third through fifth. McLaughlin (428) sits sixth overall.
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