SYDNEY, New South Wales, Australia — official series release — Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images AsiaPac photo —
ARMOR ALL boss Paul Blair will award Scott McLaughlin a $10,000 check if he equals Jamie Whincup’s 10 pole positions for the season in today’s final qualifying session.
Whincup yesterday clinched the ARMOR ALL Pole Award, given to the driver who earns the most P1 starts in a season, as his 10 poles for 2014 cannot be beaten. However, McLaughlin can still break even with the Champion elect – and while that doesn’t earn him the award (Whincup wins on a count-back of second place starts) Blair has insisted on presenting the 21-year old with equal prize money to Whincup if he can achieve the feat.
The task will be a big ask for the young gun who has never earned a pole position in a Top 10 Shootout.
“It’s an added incentive – I thought I was down and out there!” McLaughlin said. “It would be good to win it outright anyway, but at the end of the day it’s one of those things. Normally you go out there and you try and pole it every time, but obviously now I’ve got a little prize at the end of it, so I’ll be trying my best to get it.”
McLaughlin had never achieved a pole position in his V8 Supercars or Dunlop Series career until Winton this year, and admitted going for glory in the one-lap dash was even more pressure.
“It’s just trying to get this lap together that’s good enough,” he said. “You know you’re quick and there or thereabouts, but you know you don’t want to curb hop, you don’t want to stuff up a curb or hit a wall or whatever. In the back of your mind you want pole but you’ve also got to race as well, so you don’t want to blow the points out of the way.”
McLaughlin qualified sixth and third for yesterday’s races, caught out by the red flag that ended the session with one minute to go in the first. However in the second 10-minute run he just wasn’t quite there with the S60.
“We didn’t really have the pace, maybe just used a bit of the tire early, so pressures and stuff weren’t quite right – but I don’t think we’re far away,” he said. “We’re normally pretty good in the shootouts and move up a couple of spots. I just look forward to [it] – I have to get in the shootout first, and then move on.”
The Sydney street circuit has been a good place for McLaughlin, experiencing his first main game V8 Supercars race as a sub for heat-suffering Alex Premat in 2012 – straight after being awarded the Dunlop Series title earlier that day.
“Yeah it is special, I won my first Championship here and I love this track, it’s a cool joint, I’m looking forward to getting on with it.”
He is aiming to hold on to a top five finish – McLaughlin currently leads Fabian Coulthard by 58 and James Courtney by 67 points. With just 150 points left to award for the 250 km mini-marathon, he cannot surpass Craig Lowndes in fourth, who has a 183-point advantage.
Qualifying kicks off at 11:05 a.m. local time today, with the ARMOR ALL Top 10 Shootout at 1:30 p.m. local time.
CREDIT: V8 Supercars