Scott McLaughlin and his crew used strategy and speed to win at Barber Motorsports Park last weekend, earning Team Penske another victory.
The talk around the paddock this past weekend at Barber Motorsports Park was will it be a two-stop or three-stop pit strategy to win the race?
Scott McLaughlin, along with his crew (Thristy 3s), answered that question. He started P4, but showed a three-stop pit strategy was going to rule the day. McLaughlin cruised in his No.3 Good Ranchers Chevrolet to collect his 4th career NTT IndyCar Series, 2nd for Team Penske in 2023, and leaving Romain Grosjean to play the role of bridesmaid once again.
After the race, McLaughlin was quoted in saying:
“I call it a ‘happy driver strategy. I was a lot happier doing that. We went past Grosjean there on a little bit of strategy, and I feel really good about it.”
Joining Grosjean on the podium was fellow Team Penske teammate and reigning NTT IndyCar Series Champion Will Power in his No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet. He was followed by Arrow McLaren driver Pato O’Ward in his No. 5 Chevrolet, who was P4, and Chip Ganassi Racing’s 2021 Series Champion Alex Palou in his No. 10 Ridgeline Honda, who came home P5.
For the majority of the race, Grosjean, who started on pole for the race in his No. 28 DHL Honda, was in firm control and lead a race leading 57 laps. Lap #61 is when the race flipped in the favor of the New Zealander. They both made their final pit stop with a little less than 30 laps to go. It set up a race to see if McLaughlin could hold off Grosjean on cold Firestone Fire Hawk tires.
Grosjean preformed an excellent inside/outside move to overtake McLaughlin, but that wasn’t the last we would hear from him. McLaughlin kept the pressure on Grosjean as the laps continued to wind down. McLaughlin stayed patient and bided his time and on lap #72, when Grosjean took turn #5 too wide, that’s when McLaughlin seized on his opportunity. He drove underneath Grosjean, while using what seconds he had left of his push to pass by Grosjean and didn’t look back. He took the checkered flag by 1.7854 seconds over Grosjean, who has now finished P2 for the 5th time in his NTT IndyCar Series career and is still seeking that 1st victory.
After the race, Grosjean was quoted in saying:
“It hurts. The three-stop never wins at Barber, but today the pits stayed open. That gave McLaughlin and Power the edge on the three-stop. Look at the two-stop (cars) behind us – 20 seconds behind us. We had an incredible car, drove really well, gave it 100 percent, but we just got unlucky with that yellow.”
Next up on the NTT IndyCar Series schedule is the Month of May, which starts Saturday May 13th with the GMR Grand Prix at the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway.