McLaughlin survives smoking car to take second place
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New Zealand's Scott McLaughlin overcame a badly smoking car to secure second place in Sunday's Supercars race at Hidden Valley Raceway and extend his championship lead.
Erebus Holden driver David Reynolds claimed his sixth career race win with a convincing drive for the small-budget operation.
McLaughlin spent the majority of the day in second place but midway through the 70-lap race his car began omitting smoke in a worrying sign. The Kiwi ensured he kept the car in as much fresh air as possible in the searing Northern Territory heat to nurse it home and extend his championship lead over countryman Shane van Gisbergen to 161 points.
Defending series champion Jamie Whincup brought his Red Bull Holden home in third to snap a string of sub-par results.
"It was pretty hot going – the engine was hot; I was hot and there was stuff going on everywhere. The car was really good but I just couldn't get close to people because of the heat in the engine.
"It was a solid day for us so we will take that and run."
Reynolds made a blindingly fast start from the second row of the grid and managed to drive around both pole-sitter Rick Kelly and McLaughlin at turn one on the opening lap.
A safety car with 14 laps remaining opened the doors for the cars that stopped later including Van Gisbergen.
The 2016 champion blew straight past Nick Percat on the re-start but took an age to get by Kelly's Nissan, who was eventually given a bad sportsmanship flag for blocking.
By the time Van Gisbergen made the pass the top three cars had bolted into the distance a chance for a podium went begging but it was a huge recovery after a poor qualifying performance saw him start 11th.
Reynolds credited his incredible move at the start of the race as the key moment.
"Pretty much business as usual for me – I always try to get the best start I can and I just hung my balls out at turn one and went a bit deeper than everyone and it paid off," Reynolds said.
"That is what set up our race. We had awesome pit stops and good strategy. My car was amazing today. I couldn't fault it."
McLaughlin's Shell V-Power Ford teammate Fabian Coulthard came home eighth while the other two New Zealanders – Andre Heimgartner and Richie Stanaway – finished 16th and 19th respectively.
The series moves to Townsville in three weeks.
Scott McLaughlin 1775 points
Shane van Gisbergen -161
David Reynolds -327
Craig Lowndes -413
Jamie Whincup -433
Scott Pye -496
Fabian Coulthard -546