After narrowly missing out last season, Scott McLaughlin is well-placed to become the first driver under the current point scoring system to tally 4000 points in a Supercars season.
The reigning champion can clinch a second title this weekend at the Vodafone Gold Coast 600, with McLaughlin extending his lead to a season-high 622 points following his historic — yet controversial — Bathurst win alongside Alex Premat.
The current points system — with a maximum of 300 points available for an event — was brought in from 2008.
Via the current system, the winner has a larger points gain against second place before equal graduations between second and sixth, seventh to 11th and 12th through 32nd (note; there are just 24 full-time entries on the 2019 grid).
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From 12 events so far in 2019, McLaughlin has only twice left an event with a smaller series lead than the one he entered with.
In another sign of McLaughlin’s dominance this season, he has won at least one race at every race weekend, with the 26-year-old recording clean sweeps in Adelaide, Winton, Darwin and Tailem Bend — and Bathurst, if you’re picky.
After the fifth round in Perth, McLaughlin held a steady 142-point lead over DJR Team Penske teammate Fabian Coulthard.
However, McLaughlin’s Winton clean sweep, coupled with finishes of 15th and second for Coulthard, saw the reigning champ’s lead blow out to 244 points.
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The first ever Darwin Triple Crown win saw McLaughlin extend his margin to 319 points, which dropped to 292 following his Townsville coming-together with Penrite Racing’s David Reynolds.
From there, however, the rise has been exponential — it bulged to 433 points after Ipswich, swelled to 573 after The Bend sweep, was extended to 598 on home soil at Pukekohe, before pushing out to a season-high 622 points after the Bathurst breakthrough.
Coming into 2019, in the 11 seasons under the current point scoring system, just twice has the championship leader after 12 rounds failed to go on to win the championship.
McLaughlin can finish no worse than third in the standings in 2019, but such a suggestion would nearly prove trivial, such is the lead the Kiwi holds.
Only Shane van Gisbergen and Chaz Mostert can prevent McLaughlin from becoming the 13th multiple champion in ATCC/Supercars history, but it would require a number of miracles — and disasters — for either driver to stop the DJRTP pilot from taking the crown.
McLaughlin himself came close to breaking the 4000-point barrier last season — although the 2018 season featured 16 rounds, two more than 2019.
However, 18 wins from 24 starts has seen McLaughlin tally 3308 points after 12 rounds. Just twice in history has the 3000-point barrier been broken after 12 rounds (2012 and 2018).
To put McLaughlin’s 2019 dominance into perspective, his current tally — under the current pointscoring system — has already surpassed the season-end tallies of five previous champions (2010, 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017).
Should McLaughlin break the 4000-point barrier, he must score 692 points across the Gold Coast, Sandown and Newcastle events. With 900 points on offer, and considering his form this season, you’d be brave to bet against him.
The three remaining venues — Surfers Paradise, Sandown and Newcastle — are all circuits McLaughlin has previously performed well at.
Three Gold Coast podiums in Volvos (2014, twice in 2016) were finally complemented by a win from 13th on the grid for DJRTP in 2017. Earlier in 2017, McLaughlin and Alex Premat combined to finish second in a truncated Sandown 500.
However, Newcastle — despite his 2017 final-day meltdown — is a McLaughlinring, with the Kiwi taking two wins, a second, and two poles at the new street circuit from just two visits.
After 12 rounds (under current pointscoring system):
2008: 2916 points (Whincup)
2009: 2905 points (Whincup)
2010: 2662 points (Courtney)
2011: 2817 points (Whincup)
2012: 3060 points (Whincup)
2013: 2549 points (Lowndes)**
2014: 2835 points (Whincup)
2015: 2779 points (Winterbottom)
2016: 2812 points (van Gisbergen)
2017: 2580 points (Whincup)
2018: 3054 points (van Gisbergen)**
2019: 3308 points (McLaughlin)*
Champion’s winning haul:
2008: 3332 points (Whincup, 14 rounds)
2009: 3349 points (Whincup, 14 rounds)
2010: 3055 points (Courtney, 14 rounds)
2011: 3168 points (Whincup, 14 rounds)
2012: 3861 points (Whincup, 15 rounds)
2013: 3094 points (Whincup, 14 rounds)
2014: 3364 points (Whincup, 14 rounds)
2015: 3246 points (Winterbottom, 14 rounds)
2016: 3368 points (van Gisbergen, 14 rounds)
2017: 3042 points (Whincup, 14 rounds)
2018: 3944 points (McLaughlin, 16 rounds)
** driver did not win title
* ongoing season