Scott McLaughlin says the lure of racing overseas was one of the factors in his decision to switch to powerhouse DJR Team Penske for 2017 and beyond.
But the young gun wants to tick off his racing goals in Australia before considering the options the squad could offer him around the globe.
The 23-year old New Zealander announced his move to the team for 2017 yesterday, and while he said it was a “no brainer” to think about connections to NASCAR and IndyCar through the Roger Penske-led squad, he has plenty to achieve here first.
“I want to win the championship and win Bathurst, they’re my two goals … if I haven’t done them I won’t even think about it,” McLaughlin said.
“But if I have, there’s always the possibility. At the end of the day you’ve got to look at Penske from the IndyCar and the NASCAR side of things – it’s obviously their forte. So in some ways it’s a no brainer for me to think about that.
“At the end of the day, my 100 per cent focus is on the Australian Championship. That’s why I’m here, not to worry about any NASCAR drives.”
Penske president Tim Cindric was open to the idea but emphasised that the point of signing McLaughlin was to achieve those local goals in the category they had recently expanded into.
“It’s our goal to be in this sport here … to do exactly what he said – we’re here to win Bathurst and win the Championship as well, so we want the best guy in the seat to do that first,” Cindric said.
But a switch is not something the team has seen or facilitated before.
“In this business you never say never … we went through the same situation with Sam Hornish back in the IndyCar days when he signed from Panther Racing back over to our team,” Cindric said.
“He came to us and said, ‘Look I want to win the Indy 500 before I worry about NASCAR’.
“That’s what we set out to do and obviously we accomplished that in 2006 and then we said, ‘hey, is that something you want to do or not do’ and we moved to. “That NASCAR transition for Scott here – it’s not something we’ve talked about as something we’re going to do or not do. It was, if that opportunity presents itself we’re kind of all ears for the circumstances, but things change pretty quickly.”
Former Supercars champion Marcos Ambrose set off to the United States back in 2006 to pursue a NASCAR career and his connection with Penske was a big part of the team’s foray into the Australian Championship.
McLaughlin has spoken publicly about his ambitions to race around the world though the young gun said Penske’s depth was only one reason for his switch from Garry Rogers Motorsport.
The current Volvo driver recounted an emotional discussion with his team about the move but ultimately couldn’t turn down the chance to race for the team with the name of two icons in Roger Penske and Dick Johnson.