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McElrea looking to build on first IndyCar test with Dale Coyne Racing

Indy NXT veteran Hunter McElrea completed his first NTT IndyCar Series test on Monday at Mid-Ohio with Dale Coyne Racing.

The New Zealander stepped into the No. 51 Honda the day after the Honda Indy 200, and was quickly up to speed and loved the experience.

“This whole year has been a test of my desire because honestly, I’ve had a few times where I thought I might be getting an IndyCar drive, or a test, and for whatever reason, it didn’t happen. Probably a month ago, I felt like I exhausted every option, and it was looking really unlikely I was going to get anything going,” McElrea told RACER.

“Then Dale gave me a call and said, ‘There’s an opportunity to jump in and test, would you be interested?’ So before he could finish the sentence, I jumped at it immediately. Racing in IndyCar is why I came from all the way around the world to be here, and I’ve been trying to just test one for so long. I’ve been racing [LMP2] in IMSA, which is great, and finally getting in an IndyCar, the test went really well. It was awesome. I loved every lap and I exceeded my own expectations.”

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McElrea, who finished second in the NXT championship last year with Andretti Global, could get the nod to drive for the team at one of the remaining races, and hopes his performance on Monday results in another call and invitation from Coyne.

“That’s the dream,” he said. “Obviously, the track was in good condition, but I hadn’t driven an open-wheel car since Monterey last year when I won the NXT race with Andretti. I got up to speed pretty quick. The first couple runs were just about getting up to speed, and within 20 laps, I was pretty competitive, and it felt pretty natural; it wasn’t scary-fast, like what I expected. It’s a quick car, but it felt very manageable.”

Story originally appeared on Racer