Jamie Whincup says champion-elect Scott McLaughlin and the Shell V-Power Racing Team “deserved the win” after the Red Bull Holden Racing Team driver came up short.
With victory in Race 30 of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, McLaughlin moved out to a 305-point advantage in the drivers’ championship.
With only 300 points on offer at this year’s season-ending Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000, the Kiwi has with his third straight crown all but cemented.
In the 26 races contested to date this season, McLaughlin has won on 13 occasions and finished on the podium in eight others.
With one race remaining in the 2020 season, Whincup has recorded four wins and nine additional podiums.
Whincup came into the OTR SuperSprint The Bend over 250 points adrift of McLaughlin.
Finishes of 10th, seventh, and third ultimately weren’t enough to keep McLaughlin below the 300-point threshold heading into the Great Race.
The seven-time champion and likely soon to be four-time runner-up was nevertheless gracious in defeat.
“I’m certainly disappointed that we couldn’t take it to Bathurst,” said Whincup.
“But I’ve always said that you need a fast car and you need to do a good job with it.
“Scotty and the Penske boys have done a great job at engineering a really quick car, and they maximised it and certainly deserved the win.
“We would’ve loved to have had a bit more pace and take it to them, but it wasn’t to be.
“So a massive congratulations to Scotty and the whole DJR Team Penske crew, they certainly deserve the three-peat.
“All we can do now is go to Bathurst and see if we can do a good job there to finish the year.”
Whincup said he had hoped to take the championship challenge all the way to the Bathurst 1000, which will for the first time since 2000 close out the Supercars season.
Whincup, who will be joined by Craig Lowndes, said challenging for the double would have been a compelling storyline for the championship.
“It would’ve been great to go there and challenge for the race and the championship all at the same time,” he explained.
“If anything, it’s a little disappointing that we’re not battling for the championship as well and the category doesn’t have that story.
“But as I’ve always said, it’s our responsibility to step up and unfortunately we couldn’t do that this season.”
While Whincup won’t have the privilege of fighting for the drivers’ championship, Triple Eight Race Engineering is still vying for the teams’ championship.
Points leader DJR Team Penske and the Banyo-based team are separated by 100 points heading to Mount Panorama.
This year’s Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 will take place on October 15-18.