Supercars’ super street showdown

Jawad Yaqub Roar Guru

By Jawad Yaqub, Jawad Yaqub is a Roar Guru

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    Jamie Whincup wrote history over the weekend. (AAP Image/Edge Photographics)

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    After 13 rounds and 24 races, the 2017 Supercars championship is at last nearing its climax, with one last showdown of the heavyweights on the streets of Newcastle.

    Newcastle’s first Australian touring car event will oversee the closing chapter, in the season-long title battle between Holden’s Jamie Whincup and Ford’s Scott McLaughlin – with one of them set to walk away with Supercars’ top prize.

    For 24-year-old McLaughlin, it has been a stellar debut season at DJR Team Penske, who themselves have emerged as Ford’s new leading stable. Seven victories, along with 14 dominant pole positions has seen the young Kiwi assert himself over series stalwarts and thrust himself into contention for his maiden championship.

    Whincup meanwhile at 34, will be chasing an unprecedented seventh Supercars championship; a feat that no other driver in the history of the sport has accomplished.

    The Red Bull Holden Racing Team driver by contrast to McLaughlin, has spent his campaign flying the radar, which also is the opposite of how Whincup has previously won his championships.

    As supposed to dominating every race, the veteran has ground his way to multiple podiums and collected vital points when required – to keep himself in the hunt.

    As a result, Whincup leads his rival McLaughlin by a mere 30-points heading into the two 250km races on Newcastle’s concrete jungle – with 150-points available for the win in each race.

    The 2.6km layout blends elements of some of the category’s best street venues, such as the Gold Coast and the Adelaide Parklands circuit. A combination of sharp 90-degree corners and high-speed sections appear to make this short track, one that’ll be demanding.

    What makes this finale more tantalising than previous seasons, is that there will be a blank canvas as far as each team’s understanding of the circuit is concerned. Even though they won’t be completely blind as far as car setup is concerned, not having any data from previous years to go off will make for an intriguing challenge.

    Factors such as external competition will be crucial, with the likes of Prodrive and Erebus also boasting strong street-circuit form, off the back of the results of the Gold Coast 600 endurance race.

    While mathematically, Chaz Mostert in the Supercheap Auto Racing car prepared by Prodrive, isn’t out of title contention – it is unlikely that he’d be able to turn around a 264-point deficit. Regardless, there’ll be nothing stopping him for claiming the races, if that #55 Falcon is flying.

    The same can be applied to Fabian Coulthard who is 176-points adrift and defending series champion in Shane van Gisbergen, who is 276-points behind. Both drivers will understand that victory for them in either race, could ensure victory for their respective teammates in the championship.

    Also at stake for both DJR Team Penske and the Red Bull HRT is the team’s championship, which the latter has won for the past seven consecutive years. 105-points is the difference between the two outfits, with the Blue Oval squad leading it at present. The manufacturers’ title meanwhile has already been claimed by Ford – its first since 2009.

    2010 was the last time that the Dick Johnson Racing brand tasted championship success in Supercars, when James Courtney defeated Whincup in the wild final encounter at the now defunct Sydney Olympic Park circuit.

    Now having been resurrected by the integration with U.S motorsport giant Team Penske, the Queensland based Ford operation at last have the opportunity to add another piece of success to their already bustling mantle.

    The expectation will be for no less, especially with the Captain in Roger Penske himself set to be present, as well as Team Penske president Tim Cindric. Having agonisingly missed the title in NASCAR with Brad Keselowski last week, McLaughlin has the chance to make history for Penske also.

    Though Whincup and his Red Bull band are no slouches. They have the nous to win championships and win them convincingly. What it’ll ultimately boil down to, will be who will the best on day and who can avoid mistakes.

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    The Crowd Says (2)

    • November 25th 2017 @ 8:49pm
      Jacko said | November 25th 2017 @ 8:49pm | ! Report

      Race 1 for the weekend was awesome with Scotty having the speed and Whincup having a shocker. Woohoo Go Scotty

      • Roar Guru

        November 26th 2017 @ 10:04am
        Jawad Yaqub said | November 26th 2017 @ 10:04am | ! Report

        Scott’ll need at least P10-11 to win the title, if Whincup wins Race 2. Though as Saturday proved, anything can happen on a street circuit. Stay out of trouble and collect those vital points!

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