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Supercars champion Scott McLaughlin leaves for IndyCar, Team Penske ends involvement in Australia


Supercars champion Scott McLaughlin’s exit from the Australian championship to pursue a career in the United States has been confirmed.

McLaughlin, who is poised to debut in this weekend’s IndyCar series finale on the streets of St Petersburg in Florida, will not be returning to defend his crown in 2021.

Instead he will be part of a four-car Team Penske line-up for next year’s IndyCar series.

“I’m so excited for the opportunity to take the next step in my career and compete against some of the best drivers in the world in the IndyCar series,” McLaughlin said, in a statement that confirmed American billionaire Roger Penske is also ending his association with Supercars.

Penske, a giant of global motorsport who has won a record 18 Indy 500 races as a team owner, ventured Down Under in partnership with Dick Johnson Racing in 2015.

The rebranded DJR Team Penske outfit claimed 56 race wins, with McLaughlin winning the past three championships as well as the 2019 Bathurst 1000.

Scott McLaughlin, wearing his racing kit covered in advertising, smiles and gives two thumbs up.
Scott McLaughlin will pursue a career in the US with Team Penske in IndyCar.(AAP: Dan Himbrechts)

McLaughlin quits Supercars as one of the greatest drivers in the championship’s history despite only racing in eight full seasons.

The 27-year-old sits fourth on the career race wins list in the championship with 56, while his 76 pole positions place him second overall on that tally.

McLaughlin did not shut the door on a possible return to Bathurst as a co-driver.

“Obviously it is a sad moment for a lot of us,” McLaughlin said in a message to fans.

“It has been a wild ride … I was very lucky I joined a fantastic team with fantastic people in 2017 when they were on the way up.

“I’ll forever treasure the memories I’ve had with this team.

“I’m sure I’m going to be back for Bathurst, if somebody wants me as a co-driver [I] certainly would love that.”

The New Zealander will join Australian Will Power, along with Josef Newgarden and Simon Pagenaud, in the 2021 Team Penske Indycar lineup.

Dick Johnson Racing has announced it will compete in the 2021 Supercars championship under its own badge on the 40th anniversary of its first entry to the sport, with co-owners Dick Johnson and Ryan Story at the helm.

“As we enter the next chapter at DJR, we look forward to what lies ahead for our team,” team founder Dick Johnson said in a statement.

A red Ford Mustang with a number 17 in the window leads a white and blue Holden Commodore with Red Bull written on it
Scott McLaughlin has been dominant over the past three years.(AAP/Supercars Championship: Mark Horsburgh)

“It has been an honour to partner with Roger Penske and everyone from Team Penske over these last six seasons, but we understand the challenges that everyone has faced worldwide in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re thankful that we were able to conclude our partnership with our third driver and team championships together this season.”

Story said the partnership between Team Penske and Dick Johnson Racing represented “the very best of any sporting organisation in Australia and New Zealand”.

“DJR is in a great position to move forward and we are more energised than ever about the future of our team,” Story said.

Fabian Coulthard is expected to remain at the Ford team, with a replacement for McLaughlin to be named in the “near future”.

AAP/ABC



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