The numbers behind DJR's revival

  • Repco Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 09/02/2021
  • By James Pavey

The Dick Johnson Racing name will return to the grid in 2021, with Team Penske departing at the end of last year.

On Tuesday, the team took the covers off its 2021 car, marking the beginning of a new era for DJR.

Between 2014 and 2020, DJR was reborn from also-rans to a championship-winning force, with the Ford squad claiming three of the last four teams' championships.

It coincided with the arrival of Roger Penske, as well as Scott McLaughlin, who between 2017 and 2020, won three titles, 48 races and took 59 pole positions.

The Kiwi left for IndyCar equal-fourth on the all-time winners list, and second overall on the pole positions list.

In 2021, the team welcomes an all-new driver line-up, with Will Davison and Anton De Pasquale replacing McLaughlin and Fabian Coulthard.

While he didn't reach the heights McLaughlin could, Coulthard was a loyal servant to the team, helping it to its three teams' crowns.

Having two gun drivers operating in two gun cars wasn't always the case. Prior to Penske's investment, DJR had battled financially.

Despite a remarkable championship win for James Courtney, the team was cash-strapped.

In 2014, its two cars struggled to 19th and 21st in a 25-car field.

Armed with the backing of Penske, success seemed a matter of when, not if, and the recruitment of McLaughlin reflected that.

That would wait until 2017, though, with the team scaling back to one car in 2015.

That year, Scott Pye claimed the first podium for the DJR Team Penske partnership in New Zealand, before the team kicked off 2016 with two poles on the streets of Adelaide.

The two-car model, which returned for 2016, saw Pye and Coulthard claim two podiums each.

From 2017, though, things changed, with McLaughlin taking the team to the next level.

Between 2017 and 2020, McLaughlin was a force, with Coulthard also leading the championship at times. In fact, Coulthard claimed the first DJR Team Penske victory in Tasmania in 2017.

To 2021, despite the Penske juggernaut moving on, DJR is now a confident, self-sufficient entity.

All the while, Johnson and Ryan Story have been two of the key constants, but the latter acknowledged that the team will have work to do should it remain at the front with its two new drivers.

"There's no question [Davison and De Pasquale] will work well together. They wouldn’t be where they were if we didn't have that level of confidence in them," Story recently told Supercars.com.

"We have very realistic expectations. I've spoken about it at length before. We don't take for granted the fact that we've won multiple teams' championships and drivers' championships.

"The ability for that to be immediately replicated with two new drivers is wishful thinking, in real terms. We're very fortunate that we've got tremendous stability across the rest of the organisation.

"That has been bolstered by the addition of two well-credentialed drivers. It puts us in a really good position, and it's a matter of building on that and getting the guys comfortable in the car and waiting for results to come."

The new-look DJR will shake down its cars at Queensland Raceway on Wednesday before Friday's official pre-season test.

The team's title defence will commence at the Repco Mt Panorama 500 across February 26-28. Tickets are on sale now.

DJR Team Penske era statistics (2015-2020)

Year Races Wins Win % Podiums Poles Fastest laps
2015 36 0 - 1 0 2
2016 29 0 - 4 2 2
2017 26 12 46.2% 27 17 8
2018 30 10 33.3% 24 13 5
2019 31 20 64.5% 33 16 10
2020 27 14 51.9% 25 15 2
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