Scott McLaughlin signs extension with Team Penske ahead of IndyCar finale

MONTEREY, Calif. — IndyCar newcomer Scott McLaughlin has signed a multiyear contract extension with Team Penske as the New Zealander heads for his first championship race since joining the series.

The extension is the third in a month given by Roger Penske, which 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 included Romain Grosjean and Jimmie Johnson, heads into Sunday’s season finale mathematically in pursuit of the title. His win last week in Portland was his third of the season and moved him to fifth in the standings, 41 points behind teammate and IndyCar leader Will Power.

McLaughlin moved to IndyCar after winning three consecutive driving titles for Penske in Australian V8 Supercars. The 29-year-old assumed Penske was moving him to NASCAR but instead he was slotted for IndyCar.

“It was definitely a bit of a risk for him to say, ‘Hey, let’s jump in and do IndyCar.’ I think he probably had more confidence doing something over his head,” said Penske team president Tim Cindric. “But he was definitely attracted to racing in America and really hadn’t given much thought to IndyCar until we talked to him about how he thought that move might go.

“I felt after spending a lot of time with him in Australia that he has the ingredients to drive any kind of race car and be successful. I think everyone really saw what we saw in him when he won the three Supercar titles for us.”

McLaughlin first joined Team Penske in 2017 and finished second in the Supercars championship with a series-high eight wins and 16 poles. He won three consecutive titles from 2019 to 2020 and won 40 races in four years, including a series-record 18 wins in 2019.

McLaughlin also gave Penske its first victory in the prestigious Bathurst 1000 when he won from the pole in 2019.

He moved to IndyCar with nothing left in the supercars and showed steady improvement last season, then took his first race victory in this year’s opener. His second win was in July at Mid-Ohio and he dominated Sunday at Portland by leading all but six of 110 laps.

“Team Penske has been a huge part of my career, helping me get to where I am today, so I’m excited to continue racing with Roger, Tim and the entire team in the future,” said McLaughlin.

McLaughlin will race teammates Power and Josef Newgarden, as well as Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon and Marcus Ericsson, for the title Sunday at Laguna Seca Raceway. It was the tightest championship race since 2003.