Scott McLaughlin outduels Romain Grosjean for IndyCar victory at Barber
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Scott McLaughlin finally got an opening to surge past Romain Grosjean, took advantage of it and was scarcely challenged the rest of the way to his fourth IndyCar win on Sunday at Barber Motorsports Park.
The Team Penske star became the fourth winner in four NTT IndyCar Series races this season, joining Marcus Ericsson, Josef Newgarden and Kyle Kirkwood.
It was the second time this season they’ve battled for a potential win, but this time McLaughlin and Grosjean avoided getting tangled up in the process. McLaughlin, from New Zealand, wound up with Team Penske’s seventh win in 13 races at the permanent road course — and his first since breaking out with three victories last season.
“It’s been coming,” McLaughlin told NBC Sports’ Marty Snider. “We’ve been close. We just didn’t quite get it the last few rounds, but we’ve got it now.”
Grosjean had been furious with McLaughlin when the two touched heading into a corner at the opening race in St. Petersburg, Florida, both slamming into a tire barrier. McLaughlin drew an avoidable contact penalty. McLaughlin said “there’s no hard feelings” between the two.
This time, it was clean racing for the win.
Grosjean started on the pole for the second time this year and led much of the way, but he went wide on Turn 5, leaving McLaughlin enough room to pass on the inside with 19 laps to go. Grosjean didn’t have a push to pass left to help him overcome the mistake in an otherwise strong weekend.
“Gave it 100 percent but we just got unlucky with that yellow,” Grosjean told NBC Sports’ Dave Burns. "(Team owner) Michael (Andretti) said don’t get your head down, that was one of the best drives he’s ever seen. I gave it all. It was good with Sctott. Congrats to him. He deserved to win.”
The Swiss-born Frenchman and former Formula One driver in search of his first IndyCar victory came close again with his second runner-up finish of the season. He wound up just trying to hold off Will Power, McLaughlin’s teammate, a two-time Barber winner who went from 11th to third.
McLaughlin, meanwhile, picked up momentum as the series heads to Indianapolis for May, capped by the Indy 500 on May 28 (11 a.m. ET, NBC). He moved up to fourth in series points with four different winners in as many races.
Defending champion Pato O’Ward finished fourth and spent the first part of the race warily keeping an eye on Scott Dixon, who had fumed after contact sent him nose first into a tire barrier at Long Beach.
Alex Palou, the 2021 winner, was fifth. Three-time Barber winner Josef Newgarden never recovered from apparent suspension issues after early contact with Felix Rosenqvist.
Series leader Marcus Ericsson, last year’s Indy 500 winner, finished 10th in his first race since getting married right after Long Beach.
IndyCar and Barber Motorsports Park announced an extension Sunday morning that will keep the series at the track through 2027, continuing a relationship that started in 2010. Medical Properties Trust, a real estate investment trust, reached a five-year sponsorship agreement for the naming rights earlier this year and gifted them to the Birmingham children’s hospital.