McLaughlin wins 2nd straight at Barber, putting happy ending on rough week for Team Penske

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Scott McLaughlin and Team Penske proved they're a force on the track, no matter what's going on elsewhere.

McLaughlin won his second straight race at Barber Motorsports Park, giving Team Penske a much-needed triumph on Sunday just days after IndyCar erased Josef Newgarden's victory and also disqualified McLaughlin from the season opener.

The team went from damage control to celebration, at least temporarily.

“It was a little emotional for sure,” McLaughlin said. “It’s just nice. It was just a nice cap after obviously it was a pretty tough week.”

McLaughlin and Penske's fuel strategy worked to perfection, with teammate Will Power finishing second — the same order they started in.

McLaughlin's fifth IndyCar win provided temporary solace after a troubling week for Team Penske, led by series owner Roger Penske. On Wednesday, Newgarden had his season-opening win at St. Petersburg, Florida, stripped for manipulating the push-to-pass function system on his car. McLaughlin, likewise, was disqualified after finishing third.

Power was docked points —- but surged to within one point of leader Colton Herta — and fined but not disqualified. They bounced back to give Team Penske its eighth win in 14 races at the permanent road course.

“We just had to keep rolling,” McLaughlin said. “We know our job. We know what we need to do. I’m just super proud of our execution.”

Reigning Indy 500 winner and two-time series champion Newgarden finished 16th at a race where he had won three times before. He had tearfully acknowledged two days earlier having used the push-to-pass when it wasn't allowed at St. Petersburg, while saying he didn't knowingly break the rules.

Most of the drama for his teammates McLaughlin and Power was left behind once hitting the track, with McLaughlin holding onto his lead coming out of a third and final pit stop with 16 laps to go. He led 58 of the 90 laps and raced to the win coming out of a caution with two laps to go with Power his only threat.

“I would say after this week, I think Roger would be pretty happy,” Power said. A day earlier, the team and IndyCar boss was apologizing to his fellow team owners for what happened, three owners told The Associated Press.

The Australian held off rookie Linus Lundqvist of Chip Ganassi Racing to finish second and earn his 100th podium finish, tying Michael Andretti for fourth in series history.

“He got a run on me and you don’t want two Penske cars out of the race with everything that was going on,” Power said of McLaughlin. “So I was kind of easy on him going into Turn 1 there. We were certainly fast but a lot of strategy played into that.”

Felix Rosenqvist was fourth and Alex Palou fifth. Lundqvist raced to his first podium after starting 19th.

“It was amazing,” he said. “I think for the first time ever I was not on the save-the-fuel strategy, so I was not the one being passed, which was nice.”

Pole-sitter McLaughlin and Power, who started with him on the front row, maintained their spots after their third and final pit stop. They emerged ahead of the 2021 winner Palou, who opted for a two-stop strategy that left him without enough fuel to push the pace.

A restart with 30 laps to go left Palou nursing his fuel for the rest of the way, while McLaughlin worked to build enough of a cushion to stay up front with one more stop.

“We had to save so much fuel that it was impossible,” Palou said.


Arrow McLaren had a rough day after Pato O'Ward was awarded the St. Petersburg victory with Newgarden's disqualification.

O’Ward received a drivethrough penalty for contact that sent Pietro Fittipaldi skidding backward through the grass and into the tire barriers. “That was a freakin’ racing incident,” O’Ward said when told of the penalty. He finished 223rd.

Teammate Alexander Rossi’s left rear tire got loose and rolled across the grass shortly after emerging from pit road, forcing another caution at about the midway point. He completed 60 laps.


The race got a comical moment when a mannequin fell off her normal hanging spot from a bridge above the track. Nicknamed Georgina by track creator George Barber, the mannequin landed on the grass at the edge of the track with a hand appearing to stretch onto the racing surface. The IndyCar safety team rescued Georgia during a caution after Sting Ray Robb went into the wall, saying his steering wheel had broken.

However, she didn't stay intact, since a passing car lopped off her right hand. The caution was not for the mannequin.

Power initially was taken aback wondering if the yellow was for her sake.

“I knew exactly what it was,” he said. “I knew there was a lady hanging there.”


UP NEXT: IndyCar races May 11 on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, ahead of the Indianapolis 500. Alex Palou is the defending race winner.


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