Supercars record set to tumble
HIS rivals might not agree, but runaway championship leader Scott McLaughlin insists he has not yet banked the Supercars crown as he targets a record-breaking win in New Zealand this weekend.
McLaughlin can eclipse Craig Lowndes' single season record of 16 race wins with victory in either of the two races at Pukekohe, having equalled the Holden great's 1996 mark in the last round at The Bend.
In a season of dominance in his Mustang, McLaughlin has established a commanding 573-point lead in the championship ahead of fellow Ford driver Chaz Mostert.
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But as McLaughlin prepares to celebrate his 100th Supercars round start, the DJR Team Penske star said the title was still far from sewn up with the endurance season still to play out.
"There is a lot at stake, one mistake and you can really lose a lot of points," McLaughlin said.
"I am not counting my chickens before they hatch yet.
"There is a reason why we are so far in the lead at the moment and that's because we've executed the way that we wanted to and there's no reason for us to change that."
After another clean sweep by McLaughlin's Mustang at The Bend, his rival Commodores have been granted fresh aerodynamic changes by Supercars ahead of the round at Pukekohe.
McLaughlin was unsure what impact the changes would have on his competitors, but hoped it would end the Mustang attacks.
"Competition wise I'm not sure, but hopefully it just stops them yapping," McLaughlin said.
It looms as a record-breaking season for McLaughlin, who needs two more poles to equal his own season record of 16 in 2017 for most pole positions in a year.
A winner at Pukekohe last year, the defending series champion was determined to crack Lowndes' record in front of his home crowd in New Zealand.
"We've got enough time to try and do it for the rest of the year, but if we can try and do it at home in New Zealand that would be very special and something I would love to try and do," McLaughlin said.
"I never thought this would be a chance (to break) this record. Winning is very hard in this sport and that record that he made was unbelievable. At least we've tied it, if we can exceed it that would be really special.
"Records are there to be broken and (Lowndes) understands that and I'm just proud to be in a position to be able to do it and have a crack at it."
This weekend's round in Auckland is the last race before the endurance season, which will now open at Bathurst instead of Sandown.
McLaughlin, still targeting a Bathurst victory, said the team was already well into its preparations for its Mount Panorama assault.
"We have been focused on the enduros the last few months, just little things that we have been doing with the cars," McLaughlin said.
"I have been training really hard, getting ready for the enduros and just knowing that it is going to be hard on the body and all that sort of stuff. I have been sort of switched on enduro mode, especially with Bathurst being the first enduro this year it definitely throws a spanner in the works."