After three full seasons in the North American open-wheeler category, the New Zealander has four race wins and finished third in the 2023 season.
However, his best result on an oval remains a second place, on three occasions, including an agonisingly close finish at Texas in 2022 when he was passed by Team Penske team-mate Josef Newgarden in the final corners.
“That's the next goal; a win on an oval, regardless short or long,” said McLaughlin.
“The pole was great; the bummer was, we qualified pole and we had to take the engine penalty and went back to 10th.
“That was probably one that sort of got away from us in some ways because we had a really good car.
“Really proud of that but, I'm not going to lie, it is grating me not having won on an oval yet.
“I don't want to count my chickens before they hatch – I know I've got time to get there – but I really, really, really want to win on an oval.”
He has taken to the craft quicker than others, such as fellow Antipodean Penske driver Will Power, but argues he has had an easier initiation than the Queenslander did
“But, I'm lucky,” said the three-time Supercars champion.
“[Power] came into a sport where he jumps into a car that probably wasn't the best on an oval track, whereas I jumped into a Penske car, and I was able to learn and be confident with the equipment underneath me and the people that set up the car, and then the team-mates that I had to push me.”
McLaughlin has raced on four oval tracks now – Indianapolis, Texas, Iowa, and Gateway – and can lay claim to a pole position or second place finish at each of the latter three of those.
“I'm very proud with how we've built on ovals, and where we're at, especially for qualifying, but the next step is Indy,” he added.
“This one, the last three years, has been very tough and it reminds me a lot of Bathurst, how when I grew up in Supercars, I took a bit to get used to that track and eventually we won.
“I would love to win my first oval at the 500. That would be pretty cool.”