McLaughlin delivers Roger Penske yet another championship

Scott McLaughlin
Scott McLaughlin

After winning the NASCAR championship with Joey Logano, Scott McLaughlin delivered Roger Penske and Ford another title on Sunday – the Australian Supercars title.

Scott McLaughlin buried the demons and claimed a maiden Virgin Australia Supercars Championshup on the streets of Newcastle.

The memories of a disastrous final race at the Coates Hire Newcastle 500 this time last year are gone, with a comfortable second in the closing race of the 2018 season.

The young Kiwi withstood intense pressure and a spotlight on him to beat compatriot Shane Van Gisbergen, the 2016 Champion, in what was a largely eventful race compared to last year.

Often dubbed the next Craig Lowndes, McLaughlin also secured the first title for American co-owner Roger Penske, who bought half of the Shell V-Power Racing team with Dick Johnson three years ago.

The affable youngster let a flying David Reynolds past him in the closing stages for second ahead of Jamie Whincup who was some 12 seconds further down the road. Van Gisbergen came home fourth, 71 points in second on the Championship table.

“I have to pay respect to Shane, we raced hard all year. It was a hell of a battle," McLaughlin said. “It was the longest 10 laps of my life. I am absolutely amazed. I just can’t believe we have done it."

Celebrating with team
Celebrating with team

McLaughlin had a bigger buffer than he expected after Van Gisbergen was penalised overnight for a pit lane breach, with 25 seconds docked from his Saturday victory, which dropped him from first to fifth. That meant the overall lead changed from two points to 53.

In the end the penalty made no difference with McLaughlin finishing ahead of Van Gisbergen, the scenario he needed, even with a two-point margin.

McLaughlin ensured he was in front of Van Gisbergen with a second place in the ARMOR ALL Top Ten Shootout behind Erebus Penrite Racing’s David Reynolds.

He assumed the lead from Reynolds at the first pit stop with Van Gisbergen unable to make any real headway a few places behind him.

McLaughlin caught the back markers midway through which momentarily halted his charge and put him in danger of getting caught up in an accident. As a result, his team pulled him in straight away for his second and final pit stop.

From there, aside from letting Reynolds by, it was plain sailing.

Van Gisbergen did all he could but was never pushing to get near McLaughlin.

“We did everything we could," Van Gisbergen said “Congrats to them, they are worthy Champions as is Scotty. I have enjoyed the fight and working with these guys all year. Still gutted, but okay."

Roger Penske and Tim Cindric (r) were on hand to see the win
Roger Penske and Tim Cindric (r) were on hand to celebrate the win

Race winner Reynolds said he was not going to let McLaughlin off lightly had he not moved aside.

“I had a mega car out there," Reynolds said. “I could see him to start to slide and I thought to myself ‘if he’s smart he will let me go’. I was lining him up for a crack regardless. He has done a great job all year and it couldn’t go to a better driver."

Even Whincup, who snatched the title from McLaughlin last year, had to applaud the Champion.

“After last year he certainly deserved it."

Prior to the race there was a fitting tribute by fans, drivers and teams alike, with a guard of honour set up to farewell the great Craig Lowndes, who raced for the final time as a solo driver today.

Everyone was on their feet applauding the Supercars great as he walked down pit lane and led the field to their final grid of 2018. For the record, Lowndes finished the race in eleventh.

Race 2 Results

1 David Reynolds Erebus Holden 95 0.000s
2 Scott McLaughlin DJR Penske Ford 95 4.6807s
3 Jamie Whincup Triple Eight Holden 95 17.1588s
4 Shane van Gisbergen Triple Eight Holden 95 42.8390s
5 James Courtney Walkinshaw Holden 95 44.3857s
6 Andre Heimgartner Nissan Motorsport Nissan 95 45.2094s
7 Chaz Mostert Tickford Ford 95 45.4244s
8 Garth Tander GRM Holden 95 46.7038s
9 Lee Holdsworth Team 18 Holden 95 47.1698s
10 Scott Pye Walkinshaw Holden 95 48.5032s
11 Craig Lowndes Triple Eight Holden 95 49.8931s
12 Nick Percat Brad Jones Holden 95 56.5347s
13 Mark Winterbottom Tickford Ford 95 1m08.2384s
14 Cameron Waters Tickford Ford 94 1 Lap
15 Tim Slade Brad Jones Holden 94 1 Lap
16 Anton De Pasquale Erebus Holden 94 1 Lap
17 Rick Kelly Nissan Motorsport Nissan 94 1 Lap
18 Jack Le Brocq Tekno Holden 94 1 Lap
19 Michael Caruso Nissan Motorsport Nissan 94 1 Lap
20 Will Davison 23Red Racing Ford 94 1 Lap
21 Todd Hazelwood Matt Stone Holden/Ford 94 1 Lap
22 Tim Blanchard Blanchard/BJR Holden 94 1 Lap
23 Richie Stanaway Tickford Ford 94 1 Lap
24 Simona de Silvestro Nissan Motorsport Nissan 94 1 Lap
25 James Golding GRM Holden 87 8 Laps
26 Fabian Coulthard DJR Penske Ford 75 20 Laps

Final drivers' standings

1 Scott McLaughlin 3944
2 Shane van Gisbergen 3873
3 Jamie Whincup 3433
4 Craig Lowndes 3225
5 David Reynolds 3206
6 Chaz Mostert 2807
7 Scott Pye 2608
8 Rick Kelly 2515
9 Fabian Coulthard 2477
10 Nick Percat 2290
11 Tim Slade 2249
12 Mark Winterbottom 2192
13 Garth Tander 2139
14 James Courtney 2073
15 Will Davison 1927
16 Cameron Waters 1873
17 Andre Heimgartner 1775
18 Michael Caruso 1765
19 Jack Le Brocq 1673
20 Anton De Pasquale 1524
21 Lee Holdsworth 1443
22 James Golding 1418
23 Simona de Silvestro 1323
24 Tim Blanchard 1277
25 Richie Stanaway 1214
26 Todd Hazelwood 1201
27 Steven Richards 696
28 Alexandre Premat 609
29 Earl Bamber 576
30 James Moffat 546
31 Warren Luff 546
32 Paul Dumbrell 519
33 Macauley Jones 495
34 Luke Youlden 474
35 Chris Pither 456
36 Tony D'Alberto 432
37 Garry Jacobson 363
38 Dean Canto 342
39 Richard Muscat 315
40 Alex Davison 309
41 David Russell 294
42 Aaren Russell 288
43 Ashley Walsh 270
44 Jonathon Webb 255
45 Dale Wood 252
46 Jack Perkins 243
47 Bryce Fullwood 219
48 Jason Bright 216
49 William Brown 204
50 Alex Rullo 177
51 Steve Owen 168
52 Dean Fiore 96
53 Kurt Kostecki 90