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McLaughlin Holds Off World Champion for Maiden Win in IndyCar

Capitalizing on his first-ever pole-position in IndyCar, the 28-year-old from New Zealand claimed his maiden win at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
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Being just the fifth IndyCar Series race to be held in February since 1926 and coming back to the calendar after three years, there were many things to look forward to. Scott, a three-time Supercar champion, moved from racing in Australia to IndyCar last year and had his fair share of struggles.

The Grand Prix rose to expectations from Saturday with one of the best qualifying sessions. McLaughlin dominated from the start on Sunday, leading the pack for the first 25 laps when David Malukas hit the wall.

Together with a couple of drivers, he went into the pits, giving up his lead to Alexander Rossi. After another pit-stop, Scott took the lead for good after Dixon came into the pits for his third and final stop.He fended off from a furious charge by Alex Palou, the defending champion, helped by his Chip Ganassi Racing teammate, Jimmie Johnson, holding up McLaughlin, with 12 laps remaining.

"It was really, really close, but I don't think we had the pace he had today. 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."Congrats to him. I'm super happy that he got his first win. Yeah, I'm happier that we got our first podium of the year," said Alex Palou.

The Grand Prix had his fair share of controversy, with Will Power (who has 63 career poles and ranks second on IndyCar's all-time list behind Mario Andretti) was left annoyed with the blue-flags rules. At the moment, the rule allows backmarkers to try and hold off leading cars until they are a lap down to the entire field.

For the past three years, the driver who won the season opener was crowned the champion at the end, so things are looking good for Scott McLaughlin.


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