The 2017 Virgin Australia Supercars season may only be four events old, but Scott McLaughlin is well and truly thinking about the championship picture.
While others are downplaying the importance of the standings until after the enduros, McLaughlin was eager to discuss the points situation after a clean sweep at Barbagallo.
Two wins in the West have seen McLaughlin close the deficit to leader and team-mate Fabian Coulthard from 97 points down to 31.
The top five are all separated by just 31 points, with Coulthard (802) ahead of van Gisbergen (783), Jamie Whincup (780) and McLaughlin and Mostert tied on 771.
McLaughlin has been the fastest driver for much of the early part of the season, but had not won a race until yesterday thanks to an array of penalties and a strategic error.
“I’m excited. I think we’ve got a good chance,” McLaughlin said of the championship.
“I think this is shaping up to be one of the best years of Supercars yet and I’m so glad to be a part of it.
“It’s so cool to drive this car but we’ve got some really stiff competition.
“My goal was to take points off the guys in the top four places and that is what we did.
"It has got things nicely back into reachable stuff again. One hundred points back was getting a little bit annoying in some ways.
“Obviously these guys (Red Bull and Prodrive) aren’t going to be down the back too often.
“They are always going to be there so for us, we need to make sure we are there as well all the time taking as many points off them as possible.
“I think this weekend was ideal for me.”
Coulthard scored pole and finished second yesterday but qualified back in fifth for Race 8 and took the flag seventh after opting for a three-stop strategy.
“My car was good, we just didn’t get the strategy right today,” he added.
“It’s one of those things where you roll the dice, and hope it pays off. Today wasn’t our day.
“The team did an awesome job on the pit stops, and I leave the weekend with an extended championship lead.
“Sharing the podium with Roger Penske yesterday is something that I will remember for a long time.”