Jamie Whincup has scored a seventh Supercars title after a post-race time penalty for Scott McLaughlin concluded a dramatic Coates Hire Newcastle 500.
McLaughlin entered the day only needing an 11th-place finish to seal his maiden title and, having scored pole and won the start, he was in the box seat for success.
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Virgin Australia Supercars Championship standings
A trio of penalties throughout the contest, however, brought McLaughlin undone, the last of which was awarded on the very last lap.
McLaughlin had overtaken James Moffat for the key 11th on the penultimate lap before sliding wide as he went through Turn 1 for the penultimate time, allowing Craig Lowndes to gain ground.
The Shell Ford driver blocked but Lowndes was already drawing alongside and the subsequent contact pushed Lowndes into the wall, breaking his left-front suspension, spinning the Holden out of the race.
Pye again yielded to McLaughlin just six corners later, leaving the Shell Ford needing to pass the two Holdens of his former team, Garry Rogers Motorsport, to take the title.
He also had to contend, however, with Lowndes, who had joined Tim Slade and Chaz Mostert in pitting for fresh tyres under the lap 70 yellow and come charging back through.
Resisting Lowndes’ advances, McLaughlin finally made a dive on Tander on lap 90, bringing him within one place of the title.
McLaughlin made the move on James Moffat at Turn 12 on lap 93, again putting him in a championship winning position.
The mistake at Turn 1 and the contact with Lowndes then brought the third penalty, leaving surreal scenes as Whincup took the chequered flag and the championship.
Van Gisbergen ended up second ahead of Reynolds and the Nissans of Rick Kelly and Michael Caruso, while retiring Todd Kelly added to his team’s joy with a solid 10th.