Scott McLaughlin says the Nashville IndyCar race is a top three in his career in terms of enjoyment, despite not winning.
McLaughlin was arguably the class of the field in a crazy 80-lapper on the streets of Music City, where he finished in second place at just a tenth of a second behind Scott Dixon.
The Team Penske driver led early from pole position before an unfortunately timed Caution just as the first pit stop cycle was starting, and a poor second pit stop dropped him all the way back to 15th.
However, when Kyle Kirkwood got aggressive and mixed up the pack, McLaughlin regained five positions in just the lap following the restart from the Caution period during which said second stop took place.
From there, he continued to pick his way through the field, profiting often when the race went green again after full course yellows, which happened eight times.
He had just over a lap to try and pass Dixon for victory when action resumed again after that last Caution, which went red flag for just over 10 minutes, but came up 0.1067s short.
“We popped out 16th, and, yeah, I was just pissed off, so I just dropped the hammer,” he recounted of the restart after the second stop.
“I felt like the seas parted, man, on the restart, and I passed all these cars.
“Jeez, I was quickly in eighth, and then there was another restart, and I passed two more, and another restart, passed a couple of more; ‘Crap, we could have a go here.’
“Passed one guy on the last one, and I’m, like, ‘Come on, Scotty, let’s go.’
“Honestly, like that was probably – even though it didn’t work out in my favor – one of the most fun races of my career with one of the best race cars I’ve ever had.
“Our car was so good, I had so much fun…
“The Cautions and stuff were a bit inconsistent for all the driving; you know, you get into a rhythm and then you stop and then you have to restart again…
“But, to battle one-on-one with Scottie [Dixon] right there…
“Like, Texas last year [when Dixon won and McLaughlin was runner-up], I didn’t really battle with him; I just wanted to bring it home [in] second.
“Today, I had a full go with him and it was awesome.
“That was probably one of the top three best things in my career today, that race.”
McLaughlin remains seventh in the series standings at a reduced, 58-point margin relative to team-mate Will Power, who clung on to top spot despite gearbox problems which saw him struggle to 11th in Nashville.
Power’s nearest rival is now none other than Dixon, at six points in arrears with three events to go.
Highlighting how manic the latest race was, the Chip Ganassi Racing driver qualified 14th and was 20th when he had to pit after being caught up in a concertina incident which triggered the third Caution of the afternoon.
Now, from an unlikely position weeks ago, Dixon is a strong chance to clinch a seventh IndyCar title this year.
The season continues at Gateway Motorsports Park, on August 19-20 (local time).
Every IndyCar race is streamed live and ad-free on Stan Sport.