Scott McLaughlin is anticipating championship rival Jamie Whincup will come back “with a vengeance” at The Bend Motorsport Park this weekend.
After an up-and-down weekend for both McLaughlin and Whincup, the former came out the other side of the Repco SuperSprint with a 215-point advantage having come in 143 points ahead.
The weekend was highlighted by a dramatic Race 25, which saw the pair collide and result in a 15-second penalty for Whincup who went on to finish 18th.
McLaughlin’s lead might have been bigger if not for a clash with Lee Holdsworth later in that race.
As a result, the Kiwi received a 15-second penalty for spinning the Tickford Racing driver and dropping from third at the chequered flag to finish 14th.
The championship leader went on to claim finishes of third and first in the remaining races of the weekend.
For Whincup, a poor qualifying performance for Race 26 was further compounded when an air spike issue resulted in a slow pit stop and ultimately a 17th place finish.
Whincup capped off the weekend with third place in a drama-free Race 27.
In his latest Grove Racing Scott’s Corner blog, McLaughlin said he heads back to Tailem Bend with plans to extend his advantage.
“We’ll try like hell again this weekend to stretch that,” McLaughlin wrote.
“I can’t tell you how much of a relief it would be to try and get it above 300 in the penultimate event of the year, just so Bathurst can be a free-for-all.
“Knowing Jamie well enough – I have a feeling he’ll hit back with a vengeance this weekend.
“And remember, there are still 600 points up for grabs between The Bend and then Bathurst – so there’s still a hell of a lot to play out here.”
Recounting the first weekend in Tailem Bend, McLaughlin said he was pleased to extend his advantage in what were trying circumstances for his Red Bull Holden Racing Team rival.
Despite being hit off the road, McLaughlin labelled the race one of the highlights of 2020 season.
“It was seriously chaotic and wild – especially Saturday – that was one of the best races in any form of motorsport for the year,” McLaughlin wrote.
“So again, kudos to the sport and to the guys and girls at Tailem Bend for making the event happen at such short notice.
“Jamie Whincup didn’t have one of his best weekends which allowed us to stretch our lead in the title fight from 143 points out to 215 and places us in a great position.
“I was constantly mindful of the championship – in Sunday’s opening race it was a points game in the end, especially with Jamie down the back.
“Times like these you have to think of the big picture.
“In the opening Sunday race we finished third and JW 17th – which was terrible for him, but great for us.
“We got the win in the final race of the weekend ahead of my teammate Fabian Coulthard – who won the round – and answered his critics in the best possible way.
“I was so pleased for Fabs to get that sort of result after Townsville – and it was huge for the squad as we took back the lead in the team’s championship.”
The penultimate round of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, the OTR SuperSprint The Bend, takes place on September 26-27.