Scott McLaughlin one of Penske's best ever says Supercars icon
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Praise from meaningful sources can sometimes be hard to find in sport; especially in the era of social media 'armchair warriors' and faux pundits.
Kiwi Scott McLaughlin, the current Virgin Australia Supercars Championship leader, has attracted plenty of adoration this year from racers past and present. But, in the build-up to this weekend's ITM Auckland SuperSprint at Pukekohe Raceway, partial team owner and 3-time Bathurst 1000 winner Dick Johnson has compared McLaughlin to some of the best drivers in Penske Racing's history.
“Well it’s certainly one of the greatest seasons [for a Penske driver] not only in Supercars but in any sort of racing,” Johnson said, speaking to Supercars.com.
“Even in the world of Penske, I think he is up there and equaled Mark Donohue’s record of 16 race wins in a year (1968) and I think that he’ll surpass that and Donohue was with the Penske organisation for a long time to achieve that sort of thing. Scotty in a very short time has sort of really stepped up to the plate.
“When you see how the guy is performing, you have got to attribute an awful lot of that not only to his talent but certainly to the team that he has behind him. He listens and he learns as a driver. [...] Quite frankly, I can see him going on to bigger and better things and I don’t think he’s finished yet.”
McLaughlin's current season has indeed been a historic one. As mentioned by Johnson, his 16 wins equals that of Mark Donohue for being the 'winningest' for a Penske Racing driver globally. Given his current ratio of having won 16 races from 22 starts this year, he's very likely to break that internal record.
His 16th race win also equaled a lofty a record in Supercars folklore; that being the record for the most races won in a single season. Craig Lowndes, having retired from full-time competition last year, still holds the record — one he claimed in his debut full-time season in 1996. It was a whitewash year for the driver once known as 'The Kid', where he swept the championship, and both marquee endurance races (the Sandown 500 and Bathurst 1000) with Kiwi co-driver Greg Murphy.
There's the potential for this weekend's event to be a big one on a numbers basis for McLaughlin. Not only is he on the cusp of breaking two records at once, but he's also in the position to do so on the weekend where he will make his 100th Supercars round start.
With five rounds to go, McLaughlin leads his nearest rival (Chaz Mostert) by 613 points. In short, McLaughlin could fail to finish both races at Pukekohe and the Bathurst 1000 and still lead the championship.
“Like I’ve been saying the whole time, I’m just privileged to drive this so I’m trying to stay humble and drive the thing as fast as I can,” McLaughlin told Supercars.com.
“So very lucky and apparently it’s my 100th round in New Zealand coming up. Any time we can win a race and at home is special but to pass that record would be awesome.”