Note: The editorial staff at INDYCAR.com is taking a look back at the 10 biggest moments of 2022 in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and INDY NXT by Firestone in this year-end series, with one installment appearing on the site per day in countdown fashion from Dec. 22-31.
Scott McLaughlin entered his second NTT INDYCAR SERIES season optimistic he could make a big leap in performance, and he was on target.
After leading only five laps as a Team Penske rookie in 2021 – that equated to .002 percent of his laps completed -- the three-time Australian Supercars champion not only led more laps (433), he converted many of them into three race wins. Aside from teammate Josef Newgarden, who won five races, no driver won more often or improved his standing better than McLaughlin.
The New Zealander won the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg from the pole, came from behind to win the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio presented by the All-New 2023 Civic Type R and essentially went flag to flag for the victory in the Grand Prix of Portland at Portland International Raceway. He led 104 of the 110 laps in the season’s penultimate race to remain in championship contention heading to the final race and was equally as dominant in the XPEL 375 at Texas Motor Speedway despite being passed in the final corner for the win by Newgarden.
McLaughlin finished with three race wins, three NTT P1 Awards as a top qualifier, led nearly 19.6 percent of his laps and finished fourth in the point standings.
In the final week of the season, McLaughlin signed a multiyear extension to remain a driver in Roger Penske’s organization.
“Getting a chance to move to the United States and chase my racing dream, driving in the INDYCAR SERIES, is something that would not have been possible without Team Penske, so I’m forever grateful,” McLaughlin said at the time of his Sept. 7 signing. “I’ve had so many great moments with this team, from winning three Supercars championships to winning the Bathurst 1000 to making my first INDYCAR start.
“Now, we are competing at a high level, winning races and poles and even competing for the series championship. I can’t wait to see what the future holds with Team Penske.”
Said Team Penske president Tim Cindric: “Scott took a big gamble when he came to INDYCAR as he knew he would be leaving a series where he knew he could thrive for years to come. To see him have the success he has had so far has been really satisfying, as we were confident in his talent. We just didn’t know how long it would take for him to gain the confidence in himself.
“Scott has adjusted quickly and has already established himself as someone that can win at any track during one of the most competitive eras of INDYCAR racing.”