McLaughlin 'silenced critics' with 2020 Supercars title
Scott McLaughlin says he and the DJR Team Penske squad 'silenced a lot of critics' by sealing the 2020 Supercars title with a round to spare.
The Kiwi locked in the 2020 championship at The Bend today, a win and a second giving him a 305-point advantage over Jamie Whincup with just 300 point left up for grabs.
It marks his third straight title, the triumph coming in the face of category-wide adversity due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
That's nothing new to McLaughlin, though, with all three of his title-winning campaigns coming in dramatic circumstances.
The first in 2018 came off the back of a heartbreaking near-miss the previous season, McLaughlin working with renowned sports psychologist Emma Murray to help overcome that disappointment.
Then, in 2019, there was the parity storm sparked by the new Ford Mustang, followed by the highly-contentious Bathurst 1000 win, that saw McLaughlin's qualifying engine fail post-race checks, and the team slapped with the biggest fine in the category's history for a sporting breach during the race.
According to McLaughlin's the fall-out from last year has helped sweeten this third title, which he's labelled his favourite of the three.
"It's been satisfying this year because we've silenced a lot of the critics from last year," he said. "The people that were talking bad about the team and whatever.
"We've bounced back in adversity. It's been hard for everyone, but putting it all together in a season that's been very inconsistent, not knowing where we're all going and stuff, that's probably the proudest moment for us.
"2018 was a bounce back, a redemption. This one more like trying to go for a three-peat, something not many people have done before.
"This one, for me, I feel like this is the most satisfying out of them all. It's a privilege to win one, but to win three is awesome."
Expanding on why this is his best title, McLaughlin said the unprecedented uncertainty caused by the pandemic, which saw the calendar overhauled to include a series of double-header rounds, has shown the character of the team.
“For me this feels probably the best out of all of them because of the way we’ve had to bounce back from ups and downs, come back and fight the next week when everyone has raced the track the week before," he said.
“It’s just been so different. We didn’t know where we were going, it’s just been a whole lot of adversity.
“For us to come through and still win the championship with a round to go, it’s a true testament to the character of the team and the people that are behind me.
“My wife Karly, my mum and dad, people who make me 100 per cent every time I get in the car. This year has really tested all of that.”
There's significant uncertainly surrounding McLaughlin's Supercars future, with his IndyCar cameo next month tipped to be the start of a full-time transition to the American series.
For now, though, McLaughlin says he's looking forward to celebrating the title and then focussing on a pressure-free crack at a second Bathurst 1000 crown.
"We'll have a few drinks tonight and go for a team dinner. It's important that we enjoy it as much as we can," he said.
"The coolest thing about wrapping it up now is that I'm able to go to Bathurst with the team and just really enjoy it. I'm really excited for that."
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