Brodie Kostecki ended the 2018 Dunlop Super2 Series with mixed emotions, despite winning the Newcastle finale.
Kostecki took three race wins and fifth in the standings in his first season with the family-run Kostecki Brothers Racing and in a current-generation car.
That represented a major step up for the 21-year-old, whose previous best was 15th in an older-model Falcon with Matt Stone Racing in 2017.
Kostecki claimed his maiden Super2 podium at Symmons Plains and race wins at Sandown, that double in Melbourne also his first round win.
By then, he had recovered from a tough run in Perth to sit third in the standings, behind Paul Dumbrell and Chris Pither, before another DNF at Bathurst after leading early.
That ended Kostecki's title hopes, but he won the opening race in Newcastle and was sitting second in Race 2 before it was red-flagged, as Pither took the crown.
"I was really happy that we won in Newcastle and also a little bit disappointed at the same time, knowing that if we were there fighting for a title, we would have definitely been in the running," Kostecki told Supercars.com.
"That definitely took a little of the celebrations away, deep down inside of me, it kind of got to me a little bit more than I thought it would have.
"I was pretty happy with how the year went, we really worked hard halfway through the season, stepping up a little bit and taking it to the frontrunners.
"I was pretty happy with the consistency this year; Perth we had a bit of bad luck with some engine dramas and then obviously Bathurst was kind of a small disaster for us.
"I was glad to be able to go to Newcastle and take out that first race, just to prove that we are here and we are here to stay."
Kostecki took maiden race and round wins at Sandown in September
Kostecki recorded three top 10 finishes across two seasons with MSR in an older-spec Falcon before joining the family squad in an ex-Triple Eight Commodore.