Such has been Scott McLaughlin’s dominance this season that the series leader can wrap up a second Supercars title this weekend at the Vodafone Gold Coast 600.
McLaughlin has topped the standings since his first-up win on the streets of Adelaide in March, and has claimed a record 18 wins from 25 races.
Saturday’s 26th race of the season marks the first occasion McLaughlin can maximise his first ‘match point’.
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McLaughlin’s series lead swelled to a season-high 622 points over Red Bull Holden’s Shane van Gisbergen after the historic — yet controversial — Bathurst result.
The margin should come as no surprise considering McLaughlin’s stranglehold on the current season, with the reigning champion’s record 18 wins more than double the combined efforts of his rivals (van Gisbergen three wins, Fabian Coulthard two, Chaz Mostert one, Jamie Whincup one).
Only van Gisbergen and Mostert — who is 861 points behind — can stop McLaughlin sealing an inevitable second Supercars title, with a maximum 900 points on offer from the remaining three events.
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Should McLaughlin extend his lead over van Gisbergen and Mostert to over 750 points after Saturday’s Race 26, then the 26-year-old will clinch title No. 2.
McLaughlin can finish 22nd or higher to wipe out Mostert, regardless of where the Tickford star ends up in Race 26.
However, the question of van Gisbergen remains, with McLaughlin needing to gain 128 points over his countryman to win the title on Saturday.
Should McLaughlin seal the crown on Saturday, he must finish second or higher and hope van Gisbergen fails to reach the chequered flag.
If it doesn’t happen on Saturday, barring disaster either day, then McLaughlin will become a two-time Supercars champion.
Remarkably, just twice in the current pointscoring system has a driver clinched the title ahead of the final event, Jamie Whincup achieving the feat twice (2012 and 2014).
At every other season finale since 2008, the champion has left it until the final race to win the title five times (2010, 2011, 2013, 2017 and 2018).
In 2009, Whincup wrapped up the title on the Saturday in Sydney, a feat matched by Mark Winterbottom (2015) and van Gisbergen (2016).