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Trans-Tasman success at St Petersburg

The only faux pas Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin experienced at St Petersburg was falling on his back in Victory Lane after he took a dominant maiden IndyCar win this morning.

Also, Matthew Brabham scored the win in the development Indy Lights category earlier to make is an awesome day for Trans-Tasman drivers in the US.

McLaughlin held off reigning series champion Alex Palou in a tight conclusion as lapped traffic played its hand.

In what was a breakout event for the three-time Repco Supercars champion, McLaughlin took his first IndyCar pole position by 0.1837 ahead of Team Penske teammate Will Power before converting this into victory.

“Thank you to Roger Penske, everyone,” McLaughlin said. “Yeah, DEX Imaging jumping on board, trusting me, and then Roger Penske and Tim Cindric giving me the opportunity to come here.

“I miss my mum and dad dearly and my family. Wish you guys were here.

“What a day.”

Just 0.5095s separated the top two at the finish as Power finished a further 2.461s behind to be third as Colton Herta and Romain Grosjean completed the top five.

The leading pair followed a two-stop strategy, but it was Palou’s Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Jimmie Johnson who spiced up the race as he held McLaughlin at bay from lapping him as his margin diminished.

Even on the final lap, McLaughlin encountered rookie Devlin DeFrancesco, though Palou was unable to take advantage as the Kiwi paid tribute to the victims of the natural disaster occurring in the north eastern parts of Australia.

“Oh, man, it was crazy,” McLaughlin described his showdown with Palou. “Really struggled those last couple laps just to keep my head and then save the fuel and all that sort of stuff.

“But we did it. Chevy gave us the fuel mileage. Drivability this weekend has been a change, and to win at DEX Imaging’s home race is unreal. Oh, my God, I’m just – love you Australia, New Zealand, miss you guys.

“Thinking of everyone in the Queensland floods at the moment.”

The next round of IndyCar heads to the 1.5 mile oval of Texas Motor Speedway on March 20, the venue where McLaughlin scored his maiden podium last year.