Sport Next stop Bathurst as Scott McLaughlin completes Supercars three-peat

Next stop Bathurst as Scott McLaughlin completes Supercars three-peat

Scott McLaughlin claimed a third Supercars title at Tailem Bend on Sunday. Photo: AAP/Mark Horsburgh
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Supercars champion Scott McLaughlin claims he is unsure of his driving future amid speculation the Ford star will quit to race in America next year.

The 27-year-old became the fourth driver in the 60-year history of Australian touring car racing to win at least three straight titles after sealing the championship at Tailem Bend on Sunday.

It has been another dominant campaign for the Shell V-Power ace, who has won 13 races in the COVID-19 affected season before October’s Bathurst 1000.

His nearest rival, seven-time champion Jamie Whincup, has tasted victory four times.

After the season finale at Mount Panorama, McLaughlin will head straight to the United States, where he will debut for Team Penske in an IndyCar.

It is expected that will be the first race of a long career racing overseas, but the New Zealander says he is “not sure yet”.

“I’m fully focused on the end of the year,” McLaughlin told Fox Sports’ Trackside.

“I’ve got a contract for next year with DJR Team Penske (in Supercars), but we’ve got to take the opportunities when they come.

“We’ll just wait and see. I’m fully focused on Bathurst and can’t wait to get there.”

If McLaughlin does depart Supercars, he will leave as one of the series’ greatest drivers.

After Whincup snatched the 2017 championship in one of the sport’s most-dramatic finales, McLaughlin has responded by taking all before him during the past three years.

He has racked up 56 career victories – 40 coming since the start of the 2018 season – taking him past Garth Tander (55) into outright fourth on the all-time race wins list.

“Back in 2017, I genuinely thought that was my chance (at a title) gone,” McLaughlin said.

“I didn’t think I’d ever get to do it again. It really hit me hard.

“Even now, I can talk about it as the one that got away. But it’s shaped me as a person, not only on-track, but off-track as well.”

The Shell V-Power ace couldn’t complete a round triple-treat on Sunday, finishing second behind Tickford’s Cameron Waters in the final race at Tailem Bend, but it was enough to wrap up another title.

McLaughlin enters illustrious territory in the 60-year history of Australian touring car racing, joining Ian Geoghegan (1966-69), Mark Skaife (2000-2002) and Jamie Whincup (2011-14) to have completed a three-peat.

“It feels weird not being able to celebrate with the fans like normal, but we’ve got the big one we can fully focus on now at Bathurst and have a massive crack at it,” McLaughlin said.

“It’s been an awesome battle with Jamie throughout the whole year.

“There’s not as much pressure on (Bathurst 1000 co-driver Tim Slade), we just want to win the race and we’ll go hard and do what we need.

“It’s good to get a consecutive championship and hopefully we can get a consecutive Bathurst win as well.”

Whincup said he will fully focus attention on trying to win his fifth Bathurst 1000.

“Big congrats to Scotty and his team for an amazing year,” he said.

“We did whatever we could to take the championship to Bathurst but we just weren’t quick enough and you have to be consistent. We just weren’t quite there.”