McLaughlin falls, but only after winning the race

by Gary Shelton on February 28, 2022

in general

McLaughlin won his first Indy race./JEFFREY S. KING

Monday, 4 a.m.

Considering he was half a world from home, Scott McLaughlin looked fairly comfortable on the winner's podium.

Right until he went splat.

McLaughlin, who had just won his first Indy Car race when he beat Alex Palou to win the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. But in his euphoria to celebrate the moment, he lost his balance and fell.

There have been smoother landings.

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McLaughlin's only misstep came as he fell after the race./JEFFEY S. KING

"I just ended up on my ass at the podium, but that's okay," McLaughlin said. "I felt a little roly-poly, but anyway, that wasn't part of the act.

"I couldn't believe it, I jumped, and my legs just were jelly, bro, and when I hit the ground, I'm like, I'm done. I tried to make it as delicate as I could, and I just looked like an idiot. I looked like a wombat, man. It was bad. You guys hear of wombats? Or a kiwi. Kiwis don't fly, that's why they fall over when they come down from the sky. That's what we did just then."

Yeah, it's fun to win for the firs time. Especially when you come into an event hoping for a top-seven finish, as McLaughlin did. At least outwardly.

"Perseverance," McLaughlin said. :You just don't give up. You don't doubt yourself. I knew I could do it."

McLaughlin led 49 of the 100 laps to win. After Palou, Will Power was third.

"It was close," Palou said. "It was really, really close, but I don't think we had the pace he had today. Like he was on rails, and he knew where to go fast and where to obviously save some fuel at the end. I was just there trying to make some pressure so hopefully he made a mistake or anything, but no, he was all good."

McLaughlin realizes that a more humbling day might be ahead.

"I'm not kidding myself; I could quite easily be 20th next round," McLaughlin said. ". This is what INDYCAR is all about. This is why everyone loves it, why it's becoming the world's most competitive motorsport series. Proud to be a part of it, but it's all about now -- I'll celebrate this, I'll have a few beers, don't you worry about that, but I'll make sure that I get back on the horse, actually back on the simulator on Wednesday and got to get ready for Texas and then get ready for what's ahead at Long Beach and a few things. It's going to be hard, but I'm there."

Next time, maybe he'll stick the landing.

McLaughlin was the fourth driver ro win from the pole./JEFFREY S. KING

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