Scott McLaughlin has finished 14th at Barber Motorsports Park to commence his first full-time IndyCar Series campaign with Team Penske.
McLaughlin, who won three straight Supercars Championship crowns between 2018 and 2020, ran as high as ninth following a dramatic first-lap incident.
Alex Palou, driving for Chip Ganassi Racing, managed to win the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by AmFirst, having pipped Arrow McLaren SP's pole-sitter Pato O’Ward on strategy before holding off McLaughlin’s Australian teammate and 2014 series champion Will Power.
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It marked Spaniard Palou’s first IndyCar win, helping him to a series lead heading to the next weekend’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
McLaughlin avoided the chaos of an opening-lap melee after teammate Josef Newgarden spun in front of the pack exiting Turn 4.
Two-time series champion Newgarden was hit by Ryan Hunter-Reay, with Felix Rosenqvist, Colton Herta, and Max Chilton also caught up.
O’Ward led early ahead of Alexander Rossi, and committed to a three-stop strategy, as did McLaughlin.
Palou and Power stayed out and committed to a two-stop plan, with the former able to overcut O’Ward for the effective race lead on lap 31.
Palou made his second stop on lap 61, with O’Ward diving in for his third six laps later, but could do no better than fourth.
Former Formula 1 driver Romain Grosjean beat McLaughlin to be the best-placed rookie in 10th.
"P14 in the race. Learnt a tonne this weekend, nice to get a race under my belt," McLaughlin posted to social media.
Team had great pit stops and the car had good speed.
Bring on St Pete next week, thank you for the support."
It was a strong weekend for McLaughlin’s Supercars squad Shell V-Power Racing Team, which score four podiums across the three Beaurepaires Tasmania SuperSprint races.