McLaughlin signs an extension with Penske before the end

MONTERERY, CA (AP) – IndyCar newcomer Scott McLaughlin is here to stay with a full multi-year contract extension from Team Penske as the New Zealander heads into his first championship race since joining the series.

The extension announced on Wednesday is the third in a month by Roger Penske, who recently extended the contracts of NASCAR drivers Ryan Blaney and Joey Logano.

McLaughlin, who was last year’s IndyCar Rookie of the Year in a class that includes Roman Grosjean and Jimmy Johnson, heads to Sunday’s season finale as an athlete in the title hunt. His win last week in Portland was his third of the season and moved him to fifth in the standings, 41 points clear of teammate and IndyCar leader Will Power.

McLaughlin moved to IndyCar after winning three consecutive titles driving Penske in the Australian V8 Supercars. The 29-year-old assumed Penske was taking him to NASCAR but was instead assigned to IndyCar.

“Really for him it was too risky to say, ‘Hey, let’s jump in and do IndyCar. “I think maybe he had more confidence in doing something with a roof over his head,” said Penske team boss Tim Sendrick. “But he was definitely drawn to racing in America and didn’t think much about IndyCar until we talked to him about how he thought That this transition may pass by.

“I felt that after spending so much time with him in Australia, he really had the ingredients to drive any kind of racing car and be successful,” added Cendrick. “I think everyone really saw what we saw in him when he won our three Super titles.”

McLaughlin first joined the Penske team in 2017 and finished second in the Supercars Championship with eight straight wins and 16 poles. He won three consecutive titles from 2019 to 2020 and won 40 races in a four-year period, including 18 wins in 2019.