Whincup, McLaughlin in Supercars showdown

Standing on the verge of history, Jamie Whincup will have to smash Scott McLaughlin’s dream of a maiden Supercars championship to win an unprecedented seventh title.

McLaughlin enters the weekend’s final round in Newcastle 30 points adrift of Whincup.

The 24-year-old Kiwi’s failure to finish the Bathurst 1000 is the blip that could stop an outstanding season translating to his first title.

McLaughlin admitted the cordial pre-race formalities with Whincup were “weird” but not unusual, as the two men prepare to lock horns in the title fight’s climax.

“At the end of the day we’ve had a fantastic year. I’ve got nothing to lose. I just go out there and drive as fast as I can,” McLaughlin said.

DJR Team Penske’s emergence has been the story of the season, with Triple Eight Racing’s dominance rivalled after six consecutive teams’ championships.

In the Triple Eight garage, Whincup holds the smallest points buffer for a leader since his 2013 series triumph, which was sealed with two final-round race wins.

The 34-year-old tops the leaderboard despite winning just three races this season, his lowest tally for more than a decade.

“Scott’s got incredible pace,” McLaughlin said.

“We haven’t had it all our own way.

“We haven’t been able to lead from the front pace-wise, which has been difficult but we’ve capitalised where we can and given ourselves an opportunity.”

Whincup insists the chance to extend his record as the most successful driver in the sport’s history isn’t playing on his mind.

“I was happy with one championship,” Whincup said.

“I’m not a greedy person, just somehow I’m sitting here with six and I’m very honoured with that.”

The great unknown for both men is the street circuit at Newcastle, which is set to host its first Supercars round with 95-lap races on Saturday and Sunday.

“It’s a tight, twisty straight track with plenty of challenges,” Whincup said.

Whincup will be crowned champion with two second-placed finishes, even if McLaughlin pulls off a clean sweep.

The young gun is philosophical about the contest, while the six-time title winner believes hindsight will help him value the tightest season in years.

“You don’t really enjoy it at the time but no doubt win, lose or draw we’ll look back on it and appreciate the competition those guys have brought to the table,” Whincup said.

Friday’s first practice session begins at 12.10pm AEDT.

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