The state remains the same, the experience won’t.
For two-time defending Virgin Australia Supercars champion Scott McLaughlin, there will be a big difference from the NTT INDYCAR SERIES test he participated in Wednesday and the one on tap today. Yes, both sessions will have been in Texas, but that’s where the similarities end.
Wednesday’s session was at Circuit of The Americas, a 20-turn, 3.41-mile permanent road course in Austin. Today, it’s acclimating to Texas Motor Speedway, a 1.5-mile oval in Fort Worth with 20-degree banking in Turns 1-2 and 24-degree banking in Turns 3-4. Today's session is not open to the public.
McLaughlin will test Team Penske’s No. 2 Chevrolet alongside Josef Newgarden, who won last year’s Texas Motor Speedway race for Roger Penske en route to his second NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship. Also testing today will be 2014 Texas winner Ed Carpenter of Ed Carpenter Racing, Santino Ferrucci of Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan and series newcomers Oliver Askew of Arrow McLaren SP, Rinus VeeKay of Ed Carpenter Racing and Alex Palou of Dale Coyne Racing with Team Goh.
McLaughlin is already off to a fast start, posting the third-fastest lap in the COTA test. His time of 1 minute, 47.2750 seconds/114.435 mph was quicker than the top lap posted by Team Penske regulars Newgarden and Simon Pagenaud. Will Power of Team Penske had the fastest car of the test (1:46.7603/114.987 mph).
McLaughlin seemed to enjoy the COTA test.
“INDYCAR racing is really fast,” he said. “There is so much grip in these cars -- it is hard on your neck for sure man.
“I’ve been training really hard for this, and I’m really happy with the car. The speed I can carry through the corners, it’s insane. I’m getting used to being able to use the aero. You feel every bump. The G-forces are huge. You’re neck gets a hammering. There is no power steering.”
McLaughlin said running 65 laps at COTA gave him “a new sense of speed.” Now comes laps at Texas Motor Speedway, where Takuma Sato of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing won the pole for last year’s DXC Technology 600 at 220.250 mph.
“I feel really comfortable in (the car),” McLaughlin said at COTA. “We’ve got my seating position comfortable and that’s really good because I’m not going to have too many times in this car before the Indy GP.”
McLaughlin is scheduled to make his NTT INDYCAR SERIES debut in the GMR Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course Saturday, May 9. That’s currently the only race he is scheduled to compete in this season.
“I’m really happy with how it’s gone, happy with how we are going,” he said of the foray into Indy cars. “I’m having a good crack at it.”
The NTT INDYCAR SERIES season begins Sunday, March 15 with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on the city streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. The two races in Texas are Sunday, April 26 at COTA and Saturday night, June 6 at Texas Motor Speedway.