Jamie Whincup: McLaughlin "a deserved winner" of 2018 Supercars title
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Twelve months on from the incredibly tense finale that resulted in a seventh Supercars title falling into the lap of Jamie Whincup, the Red Bull ace has labelled Scott McLaughlin a "deserved" victor.
"It's been one of the toughest years we've competed in. It's the biggest prize in Australian motorsport and I think Scotty deserves his name on it," said Whincup.
"Him and his whole crew did a fantastic job, absolutely a deserved winner this year.
"To win the championship, it's the best over the whole year, so let's forget about all of the ins and outs, those guys are well and truly deserving winners and we couldn't be any more congratulatory to them."
Whincup was absent from the championship hunt for most of the second half of the season, as McLaughlin and Shane van Gisbergen romped away with a string of strong results between them. Whincup's main blow were the seven straight races mid-season (between Phillip Island and Hidden Valley in Darwin) where he failed to score a single top five finish.
Addressing the penalty that swung the balance of power in McLaughlin's favour building up to the final race of the season, Whincup described it as "tough, without a doubt" before adding; "We don't want to take any shine off what Scotty and car #17 did.
"We went hard all year. I hate just plucking things off in the last round."
The No. 1 label is set to be sidelined for another season, too. Whincup will swap back to the No. 88, while McLaughlin has confirmed that he plans to stick with Dick Johnson Racing's iconic No. 17.
Both drivers are set to debut new cars next season; McLaughlin shifting to a new-gen Ford Mustang and Whincup to a newly built ZB Commodore (his current ZB Commodore is moving across to the single-car Matt Stone Racing squad).