NEWCASTLE EAST, Australia — Scott McLaughlin capped off his incredible Virgin Austalia Supercars Championship season with one more shining performance in qualifying, capturing the pole for Sunday’s portion of the season-ending Coates Hire Newcastle 500.
After running fourth in the opening round of qualifying, McLaughlin leapt to the top of the board in the ARMOR ALL Top 10 Shootout and stayed there, with a flying lap of 1 minute, 10.5212 seconds around the Newcastle Street Circuit garnering the 24-year-old his 33rd career Supercars pole.
McLaughlin completes the 2017 season with a staggering 16 poles in 26 races, boasting an average starting position of 2.46 in the No. 17 Shell V-Power Ford for DJR Team Penske.
“What an amazing achievement this has been by the whole team,” said McLaughlin, who took the points lead from rival Jamie Whincup in the penultimate race of the season on Saturday.
“My guys gave me an unbelievable car today. To do this again in the Shootout is fantastic. We had a bit of pressure … but I’m out here living the dream and having fun. The (track) patches hurt the flow of the lap a little bit, so I really had to think about one corner before the next when I was out there.”
McLaughlin leads Whincup by 78 points entering the last race of the year. If Whincup wins, McLaughlin only needs a finish of 11th or better to secure his first series championship.
“We’ve got one more act to go now, and I’ve just got to go out, get up to the line and do my job,” said McLaughlin. “If all that happens, I think we’ll be okay.”
Shane van Gisbergen replicated his position from first round qualifying and will join McLaughlin on the front row for Sunday’s finale, with a lap of 1:10.5502 in the No. 97 Red Bull Holden.
David Reynolds and first round leader Mark Winterbottom will start third and fourth, respectively, with Whincup completing the top five in the sister Red Bull Holden.
“That was all she had,” said Whincup. “Where we had good front (grip) yesterday, we had a lot of understeer this time around, but we were certainly better in the Shootout than we were in the opening round. I’ll need a bit of luck now, but it’s not over yet.”
Rick Kelly, Michael Caruso, Fabian Coulthard, Chaz Mostert and Todd Kelly filled out the first five rows of the grid for Sunday’s 250 km finale.
The title-deciding leg of the Coates Hire Newcastle 500 takes the green flag at 3:40 p.m. local time Sunday, live on VASC Superview for fans in the United States.
QUALIFYING RESULTS: Virgin Australia Supercars Championship; Newcastle Street Circuit; Nov. 26, 2017
- Scott McLaughlin
- Shane van Gisbergen
- David Reynolds
- Mark Winterbottom
- Jamie Whincup
- Rick Kelly
- Michael Caruso
- Fabian Coulthard
- Chaz Mostert
- Todd Kelly
About the Writer
Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network, as well as a periodic contributor to SPEED SPORT Magazine.
Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.
The 23-year-old is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as the full-time tour announcer for the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.
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