Scott McLaughlin claimed his third race victory of the season. Photo / Getty
IndyCar racing has a new superstar – it’s Kiwi Scott McLaughlin.
The Kiwi has won his third race of the season with a dominant victory in the Grand Prix of Portland from pole position.
Fellow Kiwi Scott Dixon will go into this weekend’s final race with a much better chance of claiming the title, although Australian Will Power will be hard to overhaul in the California showdown.
But Team Penske’s McLaughlin is the rising star, without a doubt, and is one of five drivers still in the hunt.
He led for 104 of the 110 laps on the flat Portland road course which includes an infamous first chicane that all the drivers negotiated successfully this time.
Pundits are raving about McLaughlin’s progress in his second season, after switching from his brilliant career in Australasian Supercars.
One commentator has already installed McLaughlin as the favorite for the IndyCar series title in 2023, after he recorded his fifth consecutive top-five finish in the penultimate race of 2022.
“It’s all Scotty Mac,” raved another as McLaughlin stormed to victory in Portland.
McLaughlin retains a remote title chance this season, in a battle that includes leader Power (523 points), Josef Newgarden and Dixon (-20 points) and Marcus Ericsson (-39). McLaughlin is 41 points behind Power.
With the final race at Laguna in California, McLaughlin was also looking forward to fulfilling a dream to play golf at Pebble Beach.
On his IndyCar title chances, he said: “We’re a longshot but I don’t care, we’re a shot.”
It was an Australasian triumph in Portland with Australian Will Power second, and Kiwi Dixon third.
The 41-year-old Power is guaranteed a second IndyCar series title if he finishes in the top three in the final race.
Dixon, seeking his seventh title, started from 16th in Portland and said: “We’ve got to stop getting most improved during races.
“We’re still in the fight. Anything is possible. We’ve won on tiebreakers before and we will never give up.”