Motorsport: Scott McLaughlin to depart Supercars, secures permanent IndyCar move

Three-time Supercars champion Scott McLaughlin will not return to defend his championship next year, with Team Peske confirming the Kiwi will race in their IndyCar team next season. 

The 27-year-old driver was widely tipped to make a permanent move to IndyCar, with McLaughlin making his open-wheel racing debut on Monday (NZ time) for Penske's US-based team.

"I'm so excited for the opportunity to take the next step in my career and compete against some of the best drivers in the world in the IndyCar series," says McLaughlin. 

"The last four years racing for DJR Team Penske has been amazing. I want to thank every single person on the team and everyone that has helped me reach this point in my career. 

"I wouldn't be in position to continue to chase my dream without the hard work of so many people along the way. 

"I'm looking forward to the challenge of joining one of the most iconic motorsports programmes of all time - Team Penske's IndyCar team. I wish the 2021 season would begin tomorrow."

McLaughlin's 56 career Supercar victories rank fourth all-time, while his 76 career poles rank second - along with a Bathurst 1000 title - all achieved in just eight full seasons of racing.

News of McLaughlin's departure comes as Penske announce they will not enter a team in the 2021 Supercars series, ending a six-year relationship with Dick Johnson Racing.

Motorsport: Scott McLaughlin to depart Supercars, secures permanent IndyCar move

Team Penske will assist team co-owners Dick Johnson and Ryan Story with the transition, as they prepare for the 2021 Supercars season. 

The team are expected to announce their plans for next season - including a 2021 driver line-up - in the near future.

Team owner Roger Penske cited the coronavirus as a reason for their decision. 

"We have enjoyed an incredible six seasons competing in the Supercars series with DJR Team Penske," says Penske. 

"Partnering with Dick Johnson and Ryan Story to form DJR Team Penske was an incredible experience that produced success on the track and in the boardroom. 

"We have built so many lasting partnerships and friendships, and competing in Supercars has certainly helped strengthen our brand and our business in Australia and New Zealand. 

"Unfortunately, with the challenges we have faced in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have had to readjust our business initiatives for 2021 and beyond. 

"We want to thank Dick Johnson, Ryan Story, Fabian Coulthard and all of our team members for their hard work and dedication, as we re-established a championship organisation together over the last six years. 

"I know that Dick, Ryan and the team will continue to build on that success moving forward."

Fellow Kiwi Scott Dixon can win his sixth IndyCar championship, if he finishes ninth or better in Monday's season finale at St Petersburg, Florida.

Join us from 7:30am Monday for live updates as Kiwis Scott McLaughlin & Scott Dixon contest the IndyCar series finale.