Power: Two down, two to go en route to a perfect month of May (VIDEO)

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INDIANAPOLIS – Will Power said after his pole position on Friday, ahead of the Verizon IndyCar Series’ Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis, that he wants to finish in four sessions in the month of May.

Those sessions are in order: Grand Prix qualifying, Grand Prix race for the Grand Prix, Indianapolis 500 qualifying and Indianapolis 500 race.

Power’s a perfect two-for-two to kick off the month.

After securing the pole on Friday with a new track record lap around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, Power dominated Saturday’s race en route to his first win of the year, which seemed only a matter of time before he finally got on the scoreboard for the season.

Power led 65 of 82 laps and also held off the advances of Graham Rahal, who yet again put in a dynamic drive for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, the single-car team up against the might of the four-car Team Penske brigade.

“Yeah, that was as good as you get as far as no mistakes, good start, good restart, good stops, good out-laps, good in-laps. Just did everything we needed to do to win,” Power said post-race.

“I think back, I can’t think of anything that I felt was wrong with that race. You don’t often get that in IndyCar. So, yeah, it was a very good day.”

It was a day that is part of Power’s month of May motivation for 2015, as he now seeks to check the next box on his resume.

Power’s been one of North American open-wheel racing’s best drivers since his full-time arrival in Champ Car in 2006, and particularly since he joined Team Penske in 2009 on a part-time basis before his full-time team appointment in 2010.

But thus far it’s been the month of May that has eluded him.

Power finished fifth in the 2009 Indianapolis 500, his career best in the race, as a then-third car part-time alongside teammates Helio Castroneves (last race winner) and Ryan Briscoe. He had a car he thought could have won in 2010 but didn’t achieve the win.

A year ago, Power finished eighth after a drive-through penalty served as an unforced error.

The Australian is determined to overcome that past frustration this year.

“It’s funny, I came in this month determined to have a good month,” Power said. “I haven’t had that for so long. It’s working out. It’s just awesome to win at this place. It just is. I mean, you know, you look at the event, you look at the facility itself, it’s first class. The road course is phenomenal. It’s smooth, technical. Then you have the Cathedral of Speed, you could call it. It’s just an unbelievable month for motorsport.

“2009 and ’10 were years I felt I had a car to win it. Especially 2010, it was an unbelievable car. Just something would happen every time. The last couple years, last year was my mistake getting a drive-through penalty. I have to put myself in that position to challenge at the end of the race. I’m really determined to do that this month. I really want to get it right and win that race.”

Power’s set himself up nicely to do just that on the strength of an overdue first win this year achieved on Saturday.

It remains to be seen whether he follows it up and completes IndyCar’s first month of May IMS “double.”

Scott McLaughlin will make IndyCar debut for Team Penske at St. Pete

Scott McLaughlin IndyCar debut
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Two-time defending Supercars champion Scott McLaughlin will make his NTT IndyCar Series debut with Team Penske in the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida.

McLaughlin, 27, drove for Penske in preseason IndyCar testing at Circuit of the Americas, Sebring International Raceway (in a rookie evaluation) and Texas Motor Speedway, and he was announced Feb. 5 as making his debut with the team at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course before the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic delayed the start of the season.

Travel restrictions also made it difficult for the New Zealand native to leave Australia, where he leads the points for DJR Team Penske in the Virgin Australia Supercars series with three races remaining. He set a Supercars record last season with 18 victories.

The Supercars season will conclude Oct. 18 with the prestigious 24 Hours of Bathurst. McLaughlin then will head directly to the States to drive the No. 3 Dallara-Chevrolet at St. Pete as a teammate of Will Power, Josef Newgarden and Simon Pagenaud.

“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, who also has won at Barber and Indianapolis while unofficially finishing first in the IndyCar iRacing Challenge, said in a release. “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.”

McLaughlin, whose wife, Karly, is from New York, said he has discussed racing in America with car owner Roger Penske since he was hired by the team for the 2017 season.

“I’ve always said I’d love to have a crack at something else,” McLaughlin told reporters in February during the preseason test at Austin, Texas. “My goal was always to win the championship in Bathurst and Australia. I ticked those boxes, and then opportunities arise over time. The conversation between me and Roger was pretty short. ‘Would you be interested in IndyCar?’ I’d literally drive a wheelbarrow with a Team Penske sticker on it. I’d race anything that comes with the opportunity.

“I’ve always intended I’d love to get America one day potentially if I’ve done my goals in Australia. I’ve always said whether it’s now or 30 years down the track, I’d love to finish up (in America). I’ve promised Karly that we would come back here eventually. She’s not pushing me by any means, but I’ve always had a passion for American motorsport and certainly would love the opportunity.”

McLaughlin also has indicated a desire to try racing in NASCAR for Team Penske. He discussed his comfort with stock cars during a 2017 episode of the NASCAR on NBC Podcast (click on the link below to hear it).

Here’s the release from Team Penske:

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (September 17, 2020) – Team Penske announced today that Scott McLaughlin, the current Virgin Australia Supercars Championship points leader, is scheduled to make his long-awaited NTT INDYCAR SERIES debut in the series’ 2020 season finale on the Streets of St. Petersburg on Sunday, October 25.

The two-time and defending Supercars Champion for DJR Team Penske (DJRTP) was set to compete in his first NTT INDYCAR SERIES race earlier this year on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course before the COVID-19 global pandemic forced several delays and postponements on racing schedules, along with international travel restrictions. Before the pandemic shutdown, McLaughlin participated in the INDYCAR SERIES preseason open test at Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas, where he ran consistently well and posted the third-fastest time of the test session. The 27-year-old native of New Zealand also competed in separate tests at the Sebring International Raceway road course and the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway oval.

“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,” said McLaughlin. “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.”

McLaughlin currently leads the Supercars point standings with just three rounds of competition remaining on the 2020 schedule. McLaughlin has produced a series-best 10 wins and 10 poles and holds a 143-point lead over Jamie Whincup entering this weekend’s race at The Bend. Over the course of his Supercars career, McLaughlin has won an impressive 53 races and 71 poles, while helping DJRTP claim team championships in 2017 and 2019 and winning the driver’s title in each of the last two seasons. He also earned his first win in the legendary Bathurst 1000 race in 2019 with co-driver Alex Premat. Though he is in just his fourth season competing for Team Penske, McLaughlin already ranks third on the organization’s all-time wins list, trailing only Brad Keselowski and Mark Donohue.

Earlier this year, McLaughlin made his “virtual” INDYCAR debut, competing in the series’ iRacing Challenge and winning two races among the full field of current NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers that were competing against each other while traditional racing was put on hold.

“Our plan has always been for Scott to run a race in the INDYCAR SERIES this season, but we never wanted to take the focus away from the main goal, which is winning another Supercars Championship,” said Team Penske President Tim Cindric. “COVID-19 certainly altered those plans early on, but with the way the schedules have lined up at the end of this season, St. Pete became an available option and we remain committed to getting him some INDYCAR seat time. We know Scott is ready for this challenge and this should add even more excitement to the 2020 season finale in St. Petersburg.”

McLaughlin will pilot the No. 3 Shell V-Power Nitro+ Dallara/Chevrolet at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, which was postponed from its original date in March and will now take place on Sunday, October 25. The race on the 1.8-mile street circuit will be seen live at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC, with radio coverage on the Pennzoil INDYCAR Radio Network and SIRIUS XM.