Double Supercars champion Scott McLaughlin will make his postponed IndyCar debut with Penske in the season finale in St Petersburg next month.
The 27-year-old New Zealander, who has been dominating Australia’s premier motorsport series for DJR Team Penske, was originally due to race in the Indianapolis road course round scheduled for early May.
But the effect of the coronavirus pandemic on both IndyCar and Supercars’ calendars plus international travel restrictions have so far made it impractical to find a new race date for McLaughlin.
On Thursday Penske announced that plans were in place for a debut on the Florida street course that concludes the 2020 season on October 25.
“Our plan has always been for Scott to run a race in the IndyCar Series this season, but we never wanted to take the focus away from the main goal, which is winning another Supercars Championship,” said Team Penske president Tim Cindric.
“COVID-19 certainly altered those plans early on, but with the way the schedules have lined up at the end of this season, St Pete became an available option and we remain committed to getting him some IndyCar seat time.
“We know Scott is ready for this challenge and this should add even more excitement to the 2020 season finale in St Petersburg.”
McLaughlin took part in IndyCar’s official pre-season test at Austin before the initial postponement of the championship and set the third fastest time.
He has also tested separately at Sebring and Texas Motor Speedway.
He then participated in the iRacing Challenge that IndyCar set up in lieu of real-world racing, and would have been champion of the sim series had points been awarded.
“This is something I haven’t stopped thinking about, but I wanted to ensure my focus was on winning our third-straight Supercars championship for DJR Team Penske and all our partners in Australia,” said McLaughlin.
“We are still laser-focused on that and have three more rounds to get it done, but I’m equally as excited to finally get the chance and make my IndyCar debut.
“I’ve been doing everything I can to keep up with the series this year, from watching as many races as I can on TV to even talking to the drivers and some of the engineers back at the Team Penske shop.
“I never knew if I would be able to get behind the wheel of one of these cars this year due to all the COVID-19 restrictions, but I wanted to be ready if it became an opportunity.”
McLaughlin leads the 2020 Supercars standings with three events to go. The Australian season culminates at Bathurst the week before St Pete.