Malukas puzzled by McLaughlin’s stance on contact at WWTR

David Malukas shrugged off any accusation that he did something wrong while wrestling with Scott McLaughlin for a top-five finish in the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at World Wide Technology Raceway.

The Dale Coyne Racing w/HMD-Honda driver famously passed McLaughlin for second place in the closing laps of last year’s IndyCar race, and this year the pair again found themselves battling hard on several occasions throughout the race.

The decisive moment came in the race’s final 60 laps, when Malukas dived down the inside of McLaughlin’s Penske Chevrolet at Turn 1. The pole winner — who had to start from 10th due to an early engine-change penalty — squeezed down, made contact with the DCR car and the subsequent wobble sent him high and cost him several places. Malukas gathered up the moment and charged home in third, while McLaughlin also recovered well to claim fifth.


“I followed the car in front on the inside,” said Malukas. “Obviously for position, he squeezed down. I was right on the curb. It’s not like I washed up into him: it’s more that he cut into me. We had a tap. I managed to save it. I guess he did, as well.

“He came to me at the podium and said something about it. I don’t know if he’s, like, oppressed by it. I don’t know. I think he got a beef from that.

“From my standpoint, if you squeeze somebody down on the inside, what else are you going to expect? I can only go on the curb so much.”

Quizzed as to how or why he and Coyne had again shone at this track, Malukas said, “We had a really good car. Going off the start, I was comparing to [early leader] Newgarden there. Our tires were falling off very similarly — compared to Herta, as well. He was falling off quicker than we were. I knew at that point we had a chance to go for it, with all the yellow playing out, the strategy.

“We tried to do what Dixon did. I don’t know how he can do it. We were falling off like a cliff trying to meet that fuel target. I was lifting at the start/finish line. I am like, ‘Guys, that’s not possible.’ We had to kind of cut it off and go heavy push from there. Then at that point I was just dealing with lapped cars.

“Overall, we had a really good car, and it was good for the team. Another podium at Gateway. Yeah, going through obviously IndyCar two times here and through Indy NXT, we just keep getting podiums.”

Malukas, who described conditions off-line as “treacherous,” added: “If you can do whatever possible to reduce marbles and we can actually use the second lane, then the lapped cars won’t be as much of an issue.”

Story originally appeared on Racer