Jamie Whincup says the battle for his seventh Supercars title was the toughest he's been through so far, after the scrap with Scott McLaughlin boiled down to a wild finale in Newcastle.
Whincup bagged his seventh title following an incredible final race of the season, which saw McLaughlin slapped with three penalties and involved in a last-lap crash with Craig Lowndes.
The race provided the appropriate end to a rollercoaster Newcastle 500 weekend, which saw Whincup's 30-point advantage turned into a 78-point deficit on Saturday when he hit the wall after a clash with Michael Caruso.
Reflecting on not just the Newcastle weekend but the season as a whole, Whincup admitted that it's 'got to be' the toughest title fight he's ever gone through.
"I'm reserved when I answer this, because we've had some cracking battles in the past," he said.
"But, it's got to be, doesn't it? To come down to the last lap of the last race... We did what we could."
Whincup added that having a pace deficit to McLaughlin and his Penske crew throughout the year made the win even sweeter.
"You need pace, you need so many elements, but at the end of the day sport is crazy mental, and the continuity we've got at Red Bull is very special," he said.
"At the end of the day we got the ultimate prize for the mental side of sport and the fact that team work is what it's all about.
"Sport is addictive, it controls your life. There's been so much grind, sacrifice, and hard work going on behind the scenes.
"This means absolutely everything to me. No doubt Scotty will learn from today, and he'll come back stronger next year."
McLaughlin: "I didn't know we were that close"
Scott McLaughlin, meanwhile, says a missing mirror contributed to his crucial clash with Lowndes.
The contact with the Triple Eight driver was the final nail in McLaughlin's title hopes, leaving him with a post-race penalty that dumped him from 11th and equal on points with Whincup to 18th.
"I gave it my all. I lost my left-hand mirror so early. I knew we were close but I didn't think we were that close," said McLaughlin.
"I just defended the line into Turn 2 and then we got interlocked and caught up. I genuinely didn't mean to push him into the wall. To get pinged like that... anyway. That's hard.
"I just feel sorry for the guys, we shouldn't be in that position. I'm 24 years old, I'll have another crack yet."