Scott McLaughlin made no effort to hide his disappointment after coming close to a first IndyCar oval win at WWTR only to settle for third on Saturday night, but he had nothing but praise for his final lap move for his cost is rookie David Malukas.
McLaughlin led the race when torrential rain caused a two-hour spell under red, setting 42 laps to the checkered flag. Penske teammate Joseph Newgarden passed him for the lead immediately after the restart, but McLaughlin looked relatively safe in second until Malukas exited Turn 2 on the final lap.
“I took the high line against Joseph; it didn’t work,” he said. “I went low against Dave thinking, ‘He’s a rookie, maybe not, maybe not.’ Then he did. Oh, good; I was wrong. He walked around the outside. It was a solid move. It was wonderful. That’s what oval racing is all about. I left him enough room, he left me enough room. We went there two by one. It was a stellar pass. What we’re doing with track construction, making them really nice for oval racing, is really cool.
“[But] I am absolutely disappointed. I felt like we were actually there in daylight today. Yeah, kind of lost it there at the end.”
McLaughlin led the race before the rain and believes he would have been in good shape had the weather not affected play, but said his car was much less cooperative in the cooler overnight conditions that greeted the restart field.
“After the sun went down, I lost my balance lately,” he said. “I didn’t have what Joseph and David had. David was strong, coming at us very hard. Obviously, Josef and I got distracted. I knew I didn’t have much. Halfway through the time, started loose. [It was] it’s hard to get runs like the ones I had in daylight. On this penultimate lap, I got a little lost [Turns 3 and 4]. Dave got a good run. I could see what he was doing. I couldn’t go wide because of the confidence in the back of the car, but [Malukas] did a phenomenal job. He did a wonderful job all year. The first podium in IndyCar is quite difficult to get, especially on a short oval.”