Scott McLaughlin clinched the 2021 Rookie of the Year title thanks to an eleventh-place finish in the Grand Prix of Long Beach, with Romain Grosjean’s early retirement opening the door for the Team Penske driver to finish the job.
Following his switch from the Supercars Championship in Australia where he was a dominant force for a number of years and a triple champion between 2018 and 2020, McLaughlin has been using 2021 to acclimatise himself to the NTT IndyCar Series, and he put in a number of strong performances along the way.
He took five top-ten finishes in his rookie season, including a memorable second place finish for his maiden podium in his very first oval at Texas Motor Speedway. His eleventh place in Long Beach ultimately helped him finish fourteenth in the overall standings, but he had done enough to edge out Grosjean by thirty-three points to clinch the rookie crown.
“I’m really proud of everyone on the PPG Chevy,” said McLaughlin. “I think the car has been awesome, and I finally got it to my liking the last six or seven races. So, I’m really proud of everyone at Team Penske and I’m really excited for next year.
“This year was a foundation year; all about building and I feel like I’ve done that. Hopefully I can be a little bit further up next year.”
“I’m pretty happy with everything we’ve achieved” – Romain Grosjean
Grosjean, who will move to Andretti Autosport in 2022, was pleased with the way he performed during his rookie campaign, although he was disappointed not to end the year with a victory in the Grand Prix of Long Beach.
The Dale Coyne Racing driver was fighting inside the top six in California, only for the Frenchman to clip the wall and break a toe link on his left-rear suspension, with the subsequent repairs leaving him a few laps down.
He eventually called it a day with no prospect of a top fifteen result, but he was still proud of the way his 2021 campaign went.
“My first season in IndyCar is finished,” said Grosjean. “I’m pretty happy with everything we’ve achieved. Getting three podiums has been amazing.
“The last race in Long Beach didn’t come our way but we’ve learned so much. I’ve had an incredible time with Dale Coyne Racing with RWR, I can’t thank them enough for giving me this opportunity to drive the #51 Nurtec ODT. Now I’m looking forward to the future.”