Shell V-Power Racing was happy enough to take fourth for Scott McLaughlin and 10th for Fabian Coulthard despite a challenging afternoon in Race 19 at the Century Batteries Ipswich SuperSprint.
McLaughlin qualified on Armor All Pole Position but lost the lead in the opening corners before giving up precious seconds due to a slow pit stop, while Coulthard had a mid-race off having battled brake knock-off in his #12 Mustang.
While the former missed the podium for just the fourth time in 2019, he was pleased with his pace even if being shuffled back to third on Lap 1 and then the tyre change drama were significant setbacks.
“I think we actually had decent pace,” McLaughlin told Speedcafe.com.
“I think the start put us back a bit. I had okay pace, I was good enough to run third, but then obviously the pit stop, a bit of a drama, I think we lost four-and-half, five seconds.
“When you try and be aggressive like that and you lose that aggressiveness, effectively the whole thing, you’re basically playing catch-up from there.
“I think we actually had really good pace to hold fourth, which I’m proud of.
“Jamie (Whincup, race winner) did a great job, I don’t think that anyone was close to him today in regards to race pace.
“Overall, pretty good points day. I was just really thinking the big picture towards the end there.”
Elaborating on that ‘big picture’, McLaughlin noted that he finished ahead of his two nearest rivals in the championship, with his lead now 334 points over Coulthard and 508 over Shane van Gisbergen.
“At the end of the day, I’ve just got to look at it as a championship point of view,” he explained.
“I guess the two closest people from me at the moment were Shane and Fabs, so if I beat them it’s actually alright no matter what happens in front of me.
“Jamie took some points off us today but it wasn’t significant.
“We’ve just got to keep consolidating, keep doing what we’re doing.”
Team boss Ryan Story had a similar view, although he believes that the Stapylton outfit needs to work on its race pace as well as addressing brake problems for the DJR Team Penske Mustangs.
“The biggest thing we need to take out of today is our race pace wasn’t as strong as what we’d hoped for it to be,” he told Speedcafe.com.
“I think that’s something we need to work on overnight and we saw some brake issues there toward the end of the race, particularly Fabs.
“He had a couple of hairy moments there, so we need to re-group overnight and come back out strong.
“When a bad day is fourth and 10th, that’s not a bad thing.”
Coulthard qualified ninth but was quickly pressuring Lee Holdsworth for sixth position after a frantic opening to the race.
He held track position until an off at Turn 3 on Lap 17 which saw him lose around six seconds and three spots on the road, before emerging 13th when the pit stop cycle completed and then fighting his way back to 10th.
Story revealed that both DJR Team Penske cars had been suffering brake knock-off, a not uncommon problem at Queensland Raceway this weekend, with Coulthard particularly affected.
“He mentioned it on the radio he was experiencing a bit of knock-off and when he got out of the car he sort of described it in a bit more detail and Scott said that he was having similar troubles there,” recalled Story.
“It’s not something that we saw pop up at the test day at all and we did some race runs at the test day (last week).
“We’ll have a look at it tonight; once we get the data and get to look at the cars, I’m sure our guys will get to grips with it.”
McLaughlin’s pole position earlier in the day was the 100th for Dick Johnson Racing, which morphed into DJR Team Penske in 2015.
Story said that the milestone was testament to the determination of the team’s founder Dick Johnson and wife Jill.
“This weekend we celebrate the 900th race for DJR and we can’t lose sight of the fact that the only two people who have been around for all of them are Dick and Jill Johnson,” he observed.
“Dick’s a stayer, he’s a fighter, he’s a stayer, he’s a racer and when many of his contemporaries have retired from the sport and come to their senses and gone on to do other things, he’s still been a fixture.
“He’s still got so much support and there’s still so much good will for him and for the whole family.
“Just for the success that we’ve had over the last couple of years and where we’ve brought this team to, I just couldn’t be happier for Dick and Jill and their family to have been able to do that.”