With three races left, who could still win in IndyCar, season 2015?

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With only three races remaining in the Verizon IndyCar Series season, there are still a number of outstanding drivers who are yet to win a race this year.

Ryan Hunter-Reay made it nine winners in 13 races at Iowa Speedway and if three of the below drivers pull it off in the final three races at Mid-Ohio, Pocono and Sonoma, it will set a record for number of different winners in a season with 12.

The previous mark of 11 has been set three times: 2000 and 2001 in CART, and last year in IndyCar.

So who could still bank a win in the final three races this year? We examine:

Helio Castroneves, No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet

Castroneves has two prior wins at Mid-Ohio (2000, 2001) and one at Sonoma (2008), but it’s been dry spells for both. Incredibly quick in qualifying this year, as his only start outside the top seven all year came at Milwaukee, when his team missed qualifying.

Mid-Ohio has been a recent house of horrors for him with these four starts: 15th, 23rd, 14th and 15th and these four finishes: 19th, 16th, sixth and 19th, in the last four years.

BEST CHANCE: Pocono
WORST CHANCE: Mid-Ohio

Marco Andretti, No. 27 Snapple Honda

Andretti seeks to break a four-year dry spell but he has two decent shots in the last three races to do so.

Andretti was the out-and-out fastest driver at Pocono two years ago but struggled last year… considering how strong the Hondas have been on ovals, a relative home track win for the driver from nearby Nazareth is certainly possible there. He also, of course, won his first race at Sonoma in 2006. Without any top-fives at Mid-Ohio in eight prior starts, it’s unlikely he’ll break his duck this weekend.

BEST CHANCE: Pocono
WORST CHANCE: Mid-Ohio

Tony Kanaan, No. 10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet

Follow the above two capsules and apply it to TK, as well. Despite not having had much success at either Sonoma or Mid-Ohio, good win potential exists for him at Pocono, a race he dominated last year.

For Mid-Ohio, Kanaan finally broke a miserable qualifying string last year. He qualified third, which broke a run of 20th, 16th, 18th and 19th in the previous four years.

BEST CHANCE: Pocono
WORST CHANCE: Mid-Ohio

Simon Pagenaud, No. 22 Penske Truck Rental Chevrolet

Pagenaud’s first season at Team Penske has followed an abnormal career form: qualify well, but fall back on race day. Usually he’s overcoming poor qualifying efforts but this year has seen the reverse.

Still, he should win either of Mid-Ohio or Sonoma, on paper. Pagenaud won overall in Mid-Ohio in the 2009 ALMS race, did a yeoman’s job filling in with short notice for Justin Wilson in the 2011 IndyCar race, then has finished third, second and ninth the last three years. If there’s a place for Pagenaud to win, it’s there… or Sonoma, where he has finished seventh, fifth, and third the last three years.

BEST CHANCE: Mid-Ohio or Sonoma
WORST CHANCE: Pocono

Charlie Kimball, No. 83 Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet

The 2013 Mid-Ohio winner has been dynamic on permanent road courses throughout his career. Oddly, it’s Pocono where he might be an even better choice, as he’s also done well in 500-mile races.

BEST CHANCE: Mid-Ohio or Pocono
WORST CHANCE: Sonoma

Takuma Sato, No. 14 ABC Supply Co. Honda

Sato’s qualified very well at Pocono the last two years but it hasn’t come through with a result yet. That could well change this year, as Sato ran strongly at the most recent 500-mile race in Fontana.

BEST CHANCE: Pocono
WORST CHANCE: Mid-Ohio

Ryan Briscoe, No. 5 Arrow/Lucas Oil Schmidt Peterson Honda

A past winner at both Mid-Ohio and Sonoma, and having banked his best finish of 2014 at Pocono last year, don’t be surprised if Briscoe steals one of the final three races. The Australian has been quick, if unlucky, throughout his fill-in role in the No. 5 car this year.

Justin Wilson, No. 25 Andretti Autosport Honda

Hard to believe but second at Sonoma two years ago marks Wilson’s most recent podium finish on a permanent road course (he also came third in Houston a couple races later). Would qualify as a surprise because the car is a part-time entry, even though the driver isn’t lacking in skill.

THE FIELD

Save for Briscoe, Wilson and Ed Carpenter, the remaining drivers from 15th on back in the points standings have never won an IndyCar race.

Luca Filippi could well spring a surprise at Mid-Ohio or Sonoma and three-time winner Carpenter must not be counted out at Pocono; the same is true for rookie Sage Karam.

But seeing any of those three, plus James Jakes, Gabby Chaves, Jack Hawksworth, Stefano Coletti, Tristan Vautier or whoever else fills out the second Dale Coyne car would qualify as a definitive surprise, highly unlikely winner.

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

Scott McLaughlin IndyCar debut
Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images
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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.