It's official! McLaughlin claims second Supercars title, Whincup wins finale
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Jamie Whincup has ended his Supercars season in style by winning the final race of the season at the Coates Hire Newcastle 500. The seven-time series champ led the bulk of the race, eventually leading home Fabian Coulthard, the impressive Tim Slade, and Scott McLaughlin.
The fourth-place result seals a second-straight Supercars Championship title for McLaughlin. He now joins Jamie Whincup, Mark Skaife, Craig Lowndes, Marcos Ambrose, and Glenn Seton as a two-time championship winner in the V8-powered Supercars era.
The sweetener for McLaughlin is that DJR Team Penske's results over the course of the weekend were also enough to earn the squad the team's championship crown for 2019 — after having entered the weekend with the Red Bull Holden Racing Team threatening from behind.
“Really proud of everyone, they just fought hard right to the end,” Whincup said of the weekend.
“We didn’t have that much performance at the start of the year but we chipped away, chipped away, [and] got two wins this weekend for the team. It gives us confidence going into next year that we can certainly be contenders.”
Whincup started the race from pole position alongside Cameron Waters, with both DJR Team Penske Ford Mustangs tucked in behind. In contrast to yesterday's race, which was free of cautions, the safety car would appear in the series finale. There were a few incidents early — including a lap-one crash between David Reynolds and Lee Holdsworth at turn one — but a clash between Anton de Pasquale and James Courtney while dueling in the top 10 would end the drought (de Pasquale's wounded Commodore burying itself in the tyres).
The crash spoiled the strategy of Waters. Having spent the early phase of the race second behind Whincup, he took over the lead by making an early stop and firing away quicker laps than the leaders. And after the safety car he retained first over McLaughlin, Whincup, Fabian Coulthard, and Will Davison. But, the need to make a longer second stop for more fuel meant that he would get submerged in the compressed field behind him.
Waters was one of the numerous drivers to have their strategies shot by the safety car. Once the second wave of pit-stops had been completed among the leaders, a very different order revealed itself. Whincup led Coulthard, with Tim Slade sitting an impressive third over McLaughlin, Scott Pye, Chaz Mostert, and Waters. Saturday race winner Shane van Gisbergen sat 10th behind Todd Hazelwood and Nick Percat, having started the race from a dismal 21st following a rough run in qualifying.
The early safety car meant that the race would get shortened by a few laps, which only helped cement the order of the top five. Whincup took first by two seconds over Coulthard, Slade, McLaughlin, Pye, and Mostert.
In the closing laps, the rapid rise of van Gisbergen and Percat through the field commanded most of the attention. After an array of wild passes (including a tense moment with Waters), van Gisbergen came home seventh behind Mostert, with Waters, Percat, and Hazelwood completing the final top 10 of 2019.
Outside of the top 10, there were numerous championship plot-lines that tied themselves up. In his last drive for Walkinshaw Andretti United after nine seasons, Courtney scrapped back to a determined 11th place ahead of Andre Heimgartner. Richie Stanaway, in potentially his final Supercars race as a full-time driver, finished a solid 15th — the result doubling as Garry Rogers Motorsport's final event in the series. And three spots behind Stanaway was Simona de Silvestro, in her final race in the series as a full-timer ahead of her shift to Europe as a test driver for Porsche's Formula E squad.
Coates Hire Newcastle 500, results race 32
1. Jamie Whincup
2. Fabian Coulthard
3. Tim Slade
4. Scott McLaughlin
5. Scott Pye
6. Chaz Mostert
7. Shane van Gisbergen
8. Cameron Waters
9. Nick Percat
10. Todd Hazelwood
11. James Courtney
12. Andre Heimgartner
13. Will Davison
14. Mark Winterbottom
15. Richie Stanaway
16. David Reynolds
17. Jack LeBrocq
18. Simona de Silvestro
19. Rick Kelly
20. James Golding
21. Macauley Jones
22. Garry Jacobson
23. Lee Holdsworth
DNF. Anton de Pasquale