Scott Dixon will have his sights set on winning his sixth IndyCar title in St. Petersburg next weekend, and for the first time since 2012 there will be a second New Zealand native in the field.
Scott McLaughlin has been given a race drive by Team Penske for the upcoming finale, bringing his considerable talent to an already talented lineup.
The 27-year-old Kiwi has been racing in the Australian Supercars championship for the past eight seasons and has always had aspirations of making the jump to American open-wheel racing.
He was given the chance to drive an IndyCar in a couple test sessions at the beginning of this year, and will now get to join the track with a fellow countryman who knows a thing or two about winning
“It’s really cool,” Dixon told motorsportweek.com when asked about racing against McLaughlin. “Obviously, Scotty being a fellow Kiwi is a lot of fun. I look forward to hopefully spending a little bit of time with him.
“He’s joining a fantastic team. He previously tested with them, and it’s something he’s desired to do for a long time is to come to America. I wish him a smooth entry into the season.
“A big congratulations to him getting his [Supercars] championship sewn up early.”
McLaughlin has dominated the Australian Supercars series in recent years while driving for DJR Team Penske. He has won the last three championships and has been virtually unbeatable this season, winning 13 races and finishing on the podium 21 times out of the 26 races completed so far.
Although nothing has been confirmed yet, indications point to McLaughlin being offered a ride with Team Penske for the 2021 season in addition to the upcoming race at St. Petersburg.
Along with McLaughlin, Dixon will have another multi-year champion to compete against next season in the form of Jimmie Johnson.
Johnson is a seven-time NASCAR Cup champion and will be retiring from that sport this season in order to drive in IndyCar as Dixon’s team-mate on the road courses in 2021.
“Jimmie will be a totally different dynamic,” said Dixon. “He’s part of the team.
“Definitely a guy that I’ve really loved watching race for so many years. To have seven championships in one of the toughest categories in the world is crazy.
“I can see already from his intensity and the time that he’s spent with the team why he’s been so good. So I’m looking forward to both those aspects.”
Before Dixon can focus too much on the talented drivers entering the sport, however, he will be concerned with securing his sixth IndyCar title against Josef Newgarden, who has been on form in recent races.
Dixon currently holds a 32-point lead with only one race remaining, which will take place from the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida on October 25.