Back-to-basics boosts McLaughlin
Scott McLaughlin is confident he can break his podium drought today after a wheel nut issue masked Volvo’s return to form in Race 18.
McLaughlin ran third behind dominant Red Bull duo Shane van Gisbergen and Jamie Whincup following the pitstops in the 120km encounter.
Any hope that the 23-year-old could have hold off James Courtney and Craig Lowndes were dashed by a loose right-front wheel nut, which made the car understeer through left-hand corners.
In stark contrast to recent events where the team struggled to find a set-up in practice, the #33 Volvo had been in the top four in all three preliminary sessions this weekend.
Although the track undoubtedly suits the S60, McLaughlin says the turnaround is the result of the team using the recent break between events to reassess its direction.
“In five weeks everyone has had the chance to go over a bit of stuff,” McLaughlin told Speedcafe.com.
“We’ve gone back-to-basics in a few little things that we’ve done which has helped.
“It was really puzzling what was going on at Townsville and QR, but that’s just the game.
“During this weekend we’ve hardly changed the car. We’ve tried little things but come back to where we started.
“The car has been good and it’s good to be a bit more consistent and have a car underneath me that I’m confident can do the job.”
Although raw qualifying speed remains a question mark following an eighth place grid slot for Race 18, McLaughlin is confident he can fight at the front in today’s 200km feature.
McLaughlin last finished on the podium nine races ago at Winton, at which point he led the championship standings.
“The car was great on its tyres and it’s just unfortunate that we had the problem we did,” he said of yesterday’s race.
“If we can get the most out of it in qualifying then absolutely we’re in with a shot.
“We’re looking a lot better than we have been the last few races, so I’m confident that we can go well.”
McLaughlin remains fifth in the championship after Race 18, 312 points adrift of leader Jamie Whincup.