After an incredible day on Saturday where Shell V-Power Racing took an amazing 1-2, claiming the Teams’ Championship, Sunday could only be described as almost unbelievable. Red Bull Holden Racing’s Jamie Whincup scored a seventh Supercars title after a post-race time penalty for Scott McLaughlin concluded a dramatic Coates Hire Newcastle 500.
McLaughlin entered the day only needing an 11th-place finish to seal his maiden title and, having scored pole and won the start, he was in the box seat for success.
“It was an unbelievable day from where I stand,” commented Whincup! “Does it get any better than that? We just felt robbed yesterday, we felt like we worked so hard and did so much to get ourselves within championship contention but we didn’t feel like we deserved that yesterday.
“Today, we just thought we had to go out there and do our job, and for things to fall our way. We feel like we’ve worked the hardest and we deserve it and there’s someone looking down on us and we got the ultimate result. Big thanks to my team and my teammates, they played a huge part today. Credit to the DJR Team Penske crew, they’ve been tough competition all year, but Scott (McLaughlin) will probably come back and win five or six championships of his own in the future.”
It was a very tough race for Shell V-Power Racing in Newcastle. Coulthard qualified 8th, and was running strongly in the top 10 before a transaxle failure put him out of the race, leaving him a spectator for the remainder of the afternoon.
A good qualifying session saw McLaughlin take his 16th pole of 2017. He started strongly and led the first section of the race. Unfortunately, he was penalised for speeding in pit lane during his first stop, which pushed him down the order. McLaughlin knew that he needed to finish 11th or better to win the Championship, with Whincup in the lead.
He pushed hard to pass cars, making an unfortunate mistake when trying to pass Simona de Silvestro that meant he took a 15 second time penalty at his second stop. He was again pushed down the order as a result, and was again forced to race his way forward. He made it into the crucial 11th position with two laps remaining, before clashing with Triple Eight driver Craig Lowndes on the run up Watt St, that saw Lowndes into the wall and out of the race.
The officials handed down the equivalent of a pitlane penalty, which dropped Scott back to 18th and handed the Championship to Jamie Whincup on the very last lap.
“It was a real tough day,” commented McLaughlin. “After that first penalty I was pushing as hard as I could, and I have to put my hand up for the Simona incident. I was just trying so hard to get it done. It’s hard to pass around here, and we must have passed 20-odd cars here today. After all of it, we’re Teams’ Champions and finished second and third in the Drivers’ points so it’s been a great year. Hard to take when we were only a couple of laps away from winning the Drivers’ title, but we still have to look at the big picture. There’s plenty more to come from this great team.”
As a result, McLaughlin finished second and Coulthard third in the Drivers’ Championship. Shell V-Power Racing won the Teams’ title, giving them the number one garage in pit lane for 2018.