The Supercars championship delivered drama at the 2017 Coates Hire Newcastle 500.
The title went to Jamie Whincup, as did the race, but that last only after Scott McLaughlin was the recipient of a 25-second penalty for an incident late in the race between him and Craig Lowndes.
McLaughlin had a tough day, so far as the rules of racing were concerned. He was sent to the back after he started on the pole and was leading comfortably before he was nabbed for speeding on the entry.
Imagine that. Busted for speeding in a car race.
He fought his way back from that, but he ran into Simona De Silvestro in the attempt to move up from 12th to 11th, earning another penalty.
His car was game, though, and McLaughlin again moved up, but it seems that 11 is his unlucky number. He had moved near that position when he was hit from behind and damaged to the extent that handling issues hindered him.
Yet, he boldly went back to 11th with some risky passes, when, with two laps to go, he and Lowndes made contact in the final two laps of the race, resulting in the stewards handing him the 25-second time penalty following the race, which dropped him down from the 11th or better finish he needed to win the championship, all the way to 18th place.
“I lost my left-hand mirror so early. Obviously I knew we were close but not that close. I just defended the line into (Turn) 2,” McLaughlin explained.
Right behind Whincup at the head of the pack was Red Bull teammate Shane van Gisbergen, who let Whincup past during the middle of the race. Red Bull had a 1 – 2 finish. David Reynolds finished third.
McLaughlin must be wondering what he has to do. If not for all the penalties, he might have won the race and a target of finishing 11th seemed almost like a foregone conclusion.