Whincup secures title after McLaughlin cops late penalty 

Tom Howard

Sunday 26th November, 2017 - 6:26pm

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Jamie Whincup celebrates his title victory pic: Matthew Paul

Jamie Whincup clinched an unlikely seventh Supercars title after favourite Scott McLaughlin fell agonisingly shy of glory following a penalty issued on the final lap of an astonishing championship decider at Newcastle.

The Red Bull Holden Racing Team took victory in an edge of the seat thriller of a finale as the championship swung between Whincup and McLaughlin on several occasions through a topsy-turvy race which ended in high drama.

McLaughlin crossed the finish line in 11th which was enough to secure the title after being hit by two in race penalties early in the race.

However the title was snatched from his grasp by a penalty in the dying moments.

The Kiwi passed James Moffat on the penultimate lap which put him in title contention, but contact with Craig Lowndes on the run between Turn 1 and Turn 2 saw the latter hit the wall and spin out of the race.

The incident saw stewards hand down a pit lane penalty just before the chequered flag which demoted McLaughlin to 18th.

It handed Whincup an unlikely title after admitting he needed a miracle following the driver error which dented his hopes on Saturday.

“Never say die, but I had sort of written myself off,” admitted Whincup.

“We needed a lot of luck today and it came our way. Just as car #17 had bad luck we had similar thing yesterday, but massive respect for car #17 – he’ll probably go on and win the next eight.

“It was a proper battle this year, we did what we could, grabbed every point we could and got the chocolates.”

McLaughlin cut a dejected figure post-race following the penalty for his involvement in the Lowndes incident.

“I just gave it my all, gave it my all for the boys, Shell V-Power,” McLaughlin said.

“I lost my left-hand mirror so early and I had no…obviously I knew we were close but I didn’t think we were that close.

“I just defended the line to two and then we got inter-locked and caught up, I genuinely didn’t mean to push him to the wall.”

Shane van Gisbergen finished second to complete a Triple Eight one-two while Erebus Motorsport’s David Reynolds rounded out the podium.

McLaughlin made no mistake at the start as he converted his pole position into a lead from van Gisbergen.

However, the championship battle was soon turned on its head when the New Zealander was issued a drive-through penalty for speeding in pit lane when he took his first top from the lead after 15 laps.

The penalty dropped him to 22nd putting the title back in the hands of Jamie Whincup, who climbed from fifth to third after the first round of stops.

McLaughlin quickly surged back up to 12th with a series of moves that hauled him back into title contention only for his bid to suffer another blow when he tagged the impressive Simona de Silvestro (Nissan Motorsport) while fighting over 11th spot at Turn 2.

Stewards issued a 15 second penalty to McLaughlin, which dropped him to 23rd position and out of the title hunt when he served it at his second stop on Lap 50.

Meanwhile, at the front van Gisbergen jumped to the lead with a pass on David Reynolds with Whincup in third.

This soon became second as Whincup leapfrogged the Erebus Motorsport driver to second in the final stops.

McLaughlin was then handed a lifeline when the Safety Car was called after Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport’s Taz Douglas found the wall, bunching up the field in the process.

It left the 24-year-old with 45 laps to reach the all important 11th spot required to take the title but his job was made harder when van Gisbergen let Whincup through to the lead following the restart.

McLaughlin managed to scythe his way to 13th before the race was neutralised again for debris deposited by James Courtney on the circuit at Turn 9.

Only the two Commodores of his former team Garry Rogers Motorsport stood in the way when the action restarted on lap 73.

Unbelievably McLaughlin found himself in another incident on the restart when Scott Pye dived underneath the Ford at Turn 1, which resulted in contact before another hit from Jason Bright as the field bottled up.

The second piece of contact left the Shell V-Power driver’s left rear tyre smoking but able to continue.

He soon came under pressure from a resurgent Craig Lowndes while he pursued James Moffat and Garth Tander, putting a gusty move on Tander.

Another move on Moffat for the crucial 11th spot at the hairpin on lap 93 followed, though it was to come to nothing as the clash with Lowndes at the start of lap 94 resulted in the penalty which snatched the title from his grasp.

While all eyes were on the battle for the victory and the title, Rick Kelly produced a strong drive to claim fourth ahead of Nissan team-mate Michael Caruso.

Brad Jones Racing’s Nick Percat came from 15th to finish sixth ahead of Prodrive’s Mark Winterbottom.

The top 10 was rounded out by Lee Holdsworth (Preston Hire Racing), Will Davison (Tekno Autosports) and Todd Kelly in his final ever Supercars race.

The only other retirement from the race was the #12 DJR Team Penske Ford of Fabian Coulthard, who suffered a driveline failure after 15 laps.

Results: Virgin Australia Supercars Championship Coates Hire Newcastle 500: Race 26

1 Red Bull Holden Racing Aust Jamie Whincup Holden Commodore VF 95 2:00:09.8054
2 Red Bull Holden Racing Aust Shane Van Gisbergen Holden Commodore VF 95 2:00:14.2866
3 Erebus Penrite Racing David Reynolds Holden Commodore VF 95 2:00:15.5222
4 Sengled Racing Rick Kelly Nissan Altima 95 2:00:16.4874
5 Nissan Motorsport Michael Caruso Nissan Altima 95 2:00:17.3556
6 Timken Racing Nick Percat Holden Commodore VF 95 2:00:18.6524
7 The Bottle-O Racing Team Mark Winterbottom Ford Falcon FG/X 95 2:00:19.5908
8 Preston Hire Racing Lee Holdsworth Holden Commodore VF 95 2:00:20.0947
9 TEKNO Woodstock Racing Will Davison Holden Commodore VF 95 2:00:20.4309
10 carsales Racing Todd Kelly Nissan Altima 95 2:00:22.0212
11 Freightliner Racing Tim Slade Holden Commodore VF 95 2:00:28.1400
12 Wilson Security Racing GRM Garth Tander Holden Commodore VF 95 2:00:29.6646
13 Wilson Security Racing GRM James Moffat Holden Commodore VF 95 2:00:33.0745
14 Mobil 1 HSV Racing Scott Pye Holden Commodore VF 95 2:00:33.5972
15 Supercheap Auto Racing Chaz Mostert Ford Falcon FG/X 95 2:00:33.8310
16 Team CoolDrive Tim Blanchard Holden Commodore VF 95 2:00:36.6055
17 Team Harvey Norman Simona De Silvestro Nissan Altima 95 2:00:39.4060
18 Shell V-Power Racing Team Scott McLaughlin Ford Falcon FG/X 95 2:00:52.4292
19 Plus Fitness Racing Aaren Russell Holden Commodore VF 95 2:00:55.0300
20 Erebus GB Galvanizing Racing Dale Wood Holden Commodore VF 94 2:00:38.1296
21 Repair Management Aust Racing Taz Douglas Holden Commodore VF 94 2:00:58.4221
22 MEGA Racing Jason Bright Ford Falcon FG/X 93 2:01:07.7164
23 Monster Energy Racing Cameron Waters Ford Falcon FG/X 92 2:00:44.5666
24 Mobil 1 HSV Racing James Courtney Holden Commodore VF 91 2:00:34.4289
DNF TeamVortex Craig Lowndes Holden Commodore VF 93 1:58:01.2396
DNF Shell V-Power Racing Team Fabian Coulthard Ford Falcon FG/X 15   19:16.1350

Drivers’ Championship

1 Jamie Whincup 3042
2 Scott McLaughlin 3021
3 Fabian Coulthard 2812
4 Shane Van Gisbergen 2769
5 Chaz Mostert 2748
6 Mark Winterbottom 2208
7 David Reynolds 2196
8 Cameron Waters 2173
9 Garth Tander 2169
10 Craig Lowndes 2160
11 Tim Slade 1812
12 Scott Pye 1804
13 Michael Caruso 1776
14 Rick Kelly 1773
15 Will Davison 1659
16 Lee Holdsworth 1647
17 James Moffat 1542
18 Todd Kelly 1536
19 Nick Percat 1527
20 Jason Bright 1524
21 James Courtney 1431
22 Tim Blanchard 1302
23 Dale Wood 1221
24 Simona De Silvestro 1131
25 Steve Owen 660
26 James Golding 624
27 Tony D’Alberto 612
28 Richie Stanaway 594
29 Alex Rullo 594
30 Matthew Campbell 591
31 Paul Dumbrell 534
32 Steven Richards 504
33 Warren Luff 498
34 Alexandre Premat 495
35 Jack Perkins 495
36 Jack Le Brocq 485
37 Dean Fiore 465
38 Luke Youlden 462
39 Chris Pither 462
40 Garry Jacobson 417
41 David Wall 408
42 Jonathon Webb 372
43 Dean Canto 369
44 Taz Douglas 348
45 Macauley Jones 345
46 Andre Heimgartner 336
47 Todd Hazelwood 333
48 Aaren Russell 309
49 Alex Davison 297
50 Richard Muscat 291
51 Karl Reindler 270
52 David Russell 195
53 Shae Davies 153
54 Cameron McConville 81
55 Matthew Brabham 57
56 Ashley Walsh 0

Teams’ Championship

1 Shell V-Power Racing Team 5868
2 Red Bull Holden Racing Aust 5811
3 Prodrive Racing (Aust) Pty Ltd 4416
4 Wilson Security Racing GRM 3711
5 Erebus Motorsport 3477
6 Nissan Motorsport 3285
7 Mobil 1 HSV Racing 3270
8 Brad Jones Racing 3243
9 Nissan NISMO 2907
10 Supercheap Auto Racing 2748
11 Team Vortex 2175
12 TEKNO Woodstock Racing 1659
13 Preston Hire Racing 1647
14 MEGA Racing 1524
15 LD Motorsport 1470
16 Team CoolDrive 1302
17 MW Motorsport 288
18 Team GRM 162
19 Drillpro Racing 147
20 BIGMATE RACING 90

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