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McLaughlin Just Starting

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McLaughlin Just Starting

McLaughlin Just Starting

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February 20-23 Channel 055

Kiwi Scott McLaughlin has a chance to make history in this year’s Supercars Championship – and a chance to go on to even greater things, if he wishes.

Lisa Carrington or even Scott Dixon often luxuriate in, but there’s every chance that V8 Supercars supremo Scott McLaughlin is New Zealand’s most consistently high-performing sports figure of the last three years.

Consider the 26-year-old Hamiltonian’s driving record for DJR Team Penske in that time: 35 race victories, 44 pole positions and two Supercars driving titles, in 2018 and 2019 – plus a second in 2017. Last year also saw his debut victory at Bathurst.

“I’m looking forward to defending our Supercars Championship next season”

“He has become a true champion of our sport,” says team owner Roger Penske.

McLaughlin’s near-complete dominance of the Australian V8 scene has opened up another lane for him too, with Penske organising an IndyCar driver evaluation test in Sebring, Florida last month. Though the test was the Kiwi’s first time in a full-size open-wheeler, it certainly puts him on the radar for an eventual switch to the States.

Josef Newgarden of IndyCar’s Team Penske won the title last season and, with Dixon now a 39-year-old veteran, McLaughlin’s presence could give Kiwis a thrilling new reason to tune into the series in years to come.

You can pump the brakes on that idea for 2020, however.

“We had an amazing year in 2019 and I’m looking forward to defending our Supercars Championship next season,” McLaughlin confirmed before the evaluation. “I’m also excited to grow as a driver.”

This year, McLaughlin will be attempting to join Ian Geoghegan, Mark Skaife and Jamie Whincup as the only drivers to win three titles in a row. His Ford Mustang GT will again have the number 17 on the side, but there’s also sure to be a big target on the back.

McLaughlin, who got married in Malibu, California, in December, was involved in a heated Instagram spat with Supercars competitor Scott Pye in the off-season, with the Australian driver describing the Kiwi’s 2019 title as “tainted” due to DJR Team Penske’s race infractions at Bathurst.

For a bloke who made his name as a rookie back in 2014 for “giving it some jandal” on the accelerator, expect whatever happens to be the real deal for a motorsport-loving lad from the Waikato.

By Ben Stanley - Skywatch, February 2020

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