Scott McLaughlin is one of a few drivers that switched over to IndyCar this season after having a career that could already be classified as successful in other series.
His biggest challenge so far this season has been qualifying, which has left him mired in the middle of the pack, where turmoil often occurs.
This weekend at Portland, he’s hoping to turn that form around and place his Team Penske Chevy at the front from the drop of the green flag.
“The biggest Achilles heel for us has been our qualifying,” explained McLaughlin. “We just need to qualify better.
“I think our race pace has been strong. We can certainly hold our own when we’re near the top 10.
“Looking to qualify a bit better; that’s certainly the goal over these next three races to get through Q2 and then maybe push that Fast Six again like we did in Indy earlier in the year. We’ll see what we got.”
Qualifying may be particularly important this weekend at Portland, which has a first corner that is notorious for causing pileups on start and restarts.
Any driver that can stay ahead of the chaos stands a much better chance of making it to the end of the race without any unexpected damage.
McLaughlin pointed out that sometimes it’s just plain luck, however, that dictates if you can make it through the first couple corners cleanly.
“Sometimes there’s a lot of luck involved, and if you don’t commit you could hurt yourself even more because just run over the back of you.
“You’ve just got to try to pick the right holes. Sometimes they close up, sometimes they open. It’s just luck of the draw some day.
“If I can qualify up front, hopefully I’m there or thereabouts, but I have seen regardless of where you qualify here you can get in trouble whether you’re back, middle, or front.
“We just got to make sure we keep our nose clean for that first part, then get on with the race.”
McLaughlin and the rest of the 27-car field will take to the track Saturday at 3:00 PM Eastern time for qualifying, followed by the Grand Prix of Portland at 3:30 PM Eastern on Sunday.