You needn’t remind Scott McLaughlin of the significance of a 78-point margin in a title shootout.
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The Kiwi, who turns 27 today, led the 2017 Virgin Australia Supercars Championship by the exact same advantage entering the final race of his first campaign for Shell V-Power Racing.
The location was Newcastle and his adversary was Jamie Whincup, who looked at long odds to recover the ground he’d lost on the previous day.
But things would turn on their head in a dramatic Sunday afternoon, with McLaughlin being penalised thrice as Whincup bolted clear at the front to win a record seventh championship.
McLaughlin cut a devastated figure post-race but rebounded in fine fashion, storming to consecutive titles in 2018 and ’19, with Whincup’s Red Bull Holden teammate Shane van Gisbergen his nearest rival on both occasions.
For the first time since McLaughlin joined the Ford powerhouse, he enters a title decider – albeit in the virtual sphere – as the hunter, not the hunted.
And ironically, the gap van Gisbergen holds over him entering the final round of the BP Supercars All Stars Eseries is none other than that magical 78 number.
When prompted of the coincidental points gap, McLaughlin joked: “We’ll see if we can do it right this time!”
In reality, with up to 300 points spread across two challenging venues in Oran Park and Bathurst, and with damage turned back on, there’s every chance there could be one more twist in the tale.
“It’s going to be a good fun end to the season and I think we’ve been battling the whole time which has been cool,” McLaughlin told Supercars.com.
“Obviously Shane is getting better and better as I knew he would and I’m just trying to keep alive here.
“I’m doing my best to stay with him but he’s bloody fast on that thing.
“We’ve got two cool tracks to contend with. I think we’ll see some really good racing, especially at Oran Park, it should be a pretty hectic few laps, it’s quite tight and twisty and then obviously everyone knows what Bathurst is like.
“So a cool end and I’ve headed in not too stressed, I’ll have a crack and see how we go.”