Photo: Supercars

Two-time champion Scott McLaughlin reflects on draining 2019

A second Supercars Championship title for Scott McLaughlin didn’t come easy in 2019, despite the DJR Team Penske driver taking a new series record of 18 wins en route to his second crown.

For the young Kiwi, he and his team have endured a heavily scrutinised campaign, culminating at the season-ending Newcastle 500 where McLaughlin was able to come for the first time without any personal pressure to perform, having wrapped up the championship one round before at Sandown Raceway.

Having the opportunity to soak it all in and help the team win their championship, McLaughlin was able to take note of his surroundings as the race drew to a close.

“It was really cool; I had time to look around and see what was going on,” he said.

“There were a lot of fans cheering us on. I said after the driver’s parade that it was probably 95%/5%; there were some bad fans, some hanging over the fence and calling us all sorts of names.

“95% were amazing and that’s why you get into the sport, you want to be a race driver but you want to be popular as well and today, to win the Most Popular Driver, award was pretty cool.

“It’s why you do the sport. It’s hard to put it in to words but the last lap was so cool and to do it back-to-back was surreal.”

2019 has been a tough year for McLaughlin with he and his team being scrutinised heavily on social media given his success, even resulting in death threats to team-mate Fabian Coulthard for obeying a team order at the Bathurst 1000 which McLaughlin won.

Off the back of this and copping flack from some in the Supercars paddock, McLaughlin said he hopes the sport can learn from 2019 and move forward to be a better example.

“It’s been hard. It’s harder for me because my mum, dad, Karly (fiance) and my sister, they probably feel the pain more than I do and that’s not on.

“For me, I feel like we did I really good job, I drove the best I ever have but you can’t win with some people and you’ve got to accept that.

“Unfortunately that’s how it is and in this sport you have to get used to it, I just hope next year all of us can come into the sport with better perspective.

“Banter is great and we all do it… I hope we can be better professionals, not only for our sport and the younger drivers coming through but also for other sports and athletes around the world.

“I think we could really lead by example.”

McLaughlin was able to win the championship by 562 points over Shane van Gisbergen, battling the Triple Eight team for the third year in a row after edging his Kiwi compatriot in 2018 and being beaten by Jamie Whincup in dramatic circumstances to the 2017 title by 21 points.

With 18 wins from 32 race starts in 2019, thanks to two non-starts through the year, McLaughlin now holds the championship record for wins in a season, not only for Supercars but team owner Roger Penske.