IndyCar

Knicks fan Scott McLaughlin backs up the smack by posting fastest speed in Indianapolis 500 practice

Knicks fan Scott McLaughlin backs up the smack by posting fastest speed in Indianapolis 500 practice

INDIANAPOLIS – Scott McLaughlin may be from Christchurch, New Zealand, but the Team Penske IndyCar star loves all things New York from the Mets, the Jets, the Rangers and the Knicks.

He even married a girl from Queens, his wife Karly Paone, who is expected the couple’s first child.

He’s a proud fan of the New York Knicks and has made that well known in Indianapolis this week in the home of the Indiana Pacers.

On Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden, the Knicks defeated the Pacers 121-91 to take a 3-games-to-2 lead in the National Basketball Association (NBA) Eastern Conference Semifinals.

McLaughlin has heard it from the fans at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this week but gave it back to them Wednesday.

“Oh yes, I’ve been talking smack to all of them about the Knicks and I love it,” McLaughlin told NBCSports.com Wednesday evening at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “Everybody’s been giving me crap about the Knicks, so I’m having fun with them today – the fans, the drivers from Indianapolis, everybody.”

There are few things Indianapolis residents love as much as the Indianapolis 500 and the Indiana Pacers fit into that category.

But the transplanted New Zealander who now lives in Charlotte, North Carolina to be near the Team Penske facility in Mooresville, North Carolina wears his New York fandom allegiance on his sleeve.

He went one step further in Wednesday’s rain abbreviated Indianapolis 500 practice, posting the fastest speed of the day at 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway at 229.493 miles per hour in the No. 3 Pennzoil Chevrolet. He ran 78 laps.

Syndication: The Indianapolis Star

“It was a pretty busy day,” McLaughlin said. “The start of it was pretty slow, and then once we got out there, it was hustle and bustle just getting out there and finding some space, and traffic running was probably what we were working on. The race car feels really good, basically straight out of the truck. Even yesterday when we had those limited running, I felt really good there just from a balance perspective, and just had that confidence today.

“We ran some really good runs in pretty dirty air deep in the pack and was able to pass a few cars, and that's always a good sign.”

McLaughlin admits he was tired of sitting in the motorhome watching movies to deal with the time of waiting out the rain.

“So boring, there's only so much Netflix you can watch,” McLaughlin said. “I was over it. I watched about three movies but then I was ready to go once we got going, and I was happy as.

“When the car is good straight away, that's a nice feeling. I feel that anticipation, as well, because it is quite a bit of anticipation just getting ready to go. I think this is two years in a row we've lost opening day. It's a nice feeling.”

Six-time IndyCar Series champion, five-time Indy 500 Pole winner and 2008 Indianapolis 500 winner Scott Dixon of Chip Ganassi Racing was second at 229.107 mph in the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda.

Team Penske’s Will Power, the 2018 Indy 500 winner, was third at 228.767 mph in the No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet. Marco Andretti of Andretti Global was fourth at 228.399 mph in the No. 98 Honda and teammate Colton Herta rounded out the top five at 227.858 mph.

All 34 car/driver combinations were on track Wednesday in a session that was delayed five-hours-and-five minutes by rain. It also ended about an hour early from its extended time of 7 p.m. because of light sprinkles.

IndyCar: 108th Running of Indianapolis 500-Practice

Kyle Larson, the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion, was 17thfastest in his first day of running significant number of laps at IMS this year. Larson’s best speed was 17th on the board at 225.245 mph. He ran 56 laps.

“There’s plenty of track time, so I’m trying to remember that,” Larson said. “I’m glad to have got out there and get running. Still trying to figure a lot out, and kind of work through the car balance some, timing of runs and all that. Maybe the timing of runs will becoming easier when the car balance gets better.

“I’m just trying to play around with things and try to be able to make runs and pass people like I see some others are able to pass pretty easily.

“There’s a lot of guys that just seem stuck, maybe. Just trying to figure that out. Overall, pretty happy with the few hours we’ve got. We’ll go back and talk to the teammates now, and listen in on what they were working through, what they felt, and if it matches up with what I’m feeling as well.

“It was good to get out there.”

Larson indicated he is learning more about his No. 17 Chevrolet at Arrow McLaren and beginning to understand how the car should feel in certain situations.

“I feel like know what I need to feel in traffic to maintain those runs, but then it’s like if you miss that a little bit or get some clean air, and then you’re now like weirdly loose,” Larson explained. “I feel like there are moments where it’s a little bit unpredictable when I feel the couple of times I’ve had a loose moment.

“Just talking to them and see what’s normal and all that. Tony (Kanaan) has been a great help throughout this evening in talking to him, but it would be nice to hear what the guys’ thoughts who were also in traffic today.”

IndyCar officials have added more time to Thursday’s practice session. Instead of running from 12 noon to 6 p.m. Eastern Time, practice will begin two hours earlier at 10 a.m. and run without a break to 6 p.m. ET.

“I’m looking forward to a fully day on Thursday,” Larson said. “Sounds like there may be some qualifying trim runs, which will be interesting in seeing how that feels differently without the boost turned up.

“I think Friday doesn’t look good, so I’m getting into that and keep learning.”

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500

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