NEWCASTLE EAST, Australia — Jamie Whincup joined an elite list of motorsport legends in scoring his seventh Virgin Australia Supercars Championship title Sunday during the season-ending Coates Hire Newcastle 500.
After all, across all forms of auto racing, only the greatest drivers in history have scored seven championships or more in their respective series over the course of their legendary careers.
Steve Kinser (20) and Donny Schatz (nine) have both done so, and then some, in the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series.
Michael Schumacher won seven world championships in Formula One.
A.J. Foyt reached the same threshold in Indy car racing.
And the likes of Richard Petty. Dale Earnhardt and Jimmie Johnson have all achieved the mark of seven crowns in the NASCAR Cup Series.
Now, Whincup has joined the likes of those icons in motor racing with his seventh championship in 10 years after a thrilling comeback, winning the final race of the season to wrest the title away from young Ford rival Scott McLaughlin.
It was a moment that had the 34-year-old speechless in his achievement, as well as reflective on what the mark meant.
“I’m honestly lost for words,” said Whincup on the championship stage. “What a rollercoaster of a day. I’m glad we got another one. These trophies mean a lot … and there’s not many other drivers out there that have a similar resume. It’s amazing, really.”
“I’m always real reserved when I say this, because I’ve had some cracker battles in the past, but this has to be the toughest championship I’ve won, doesn’t it?” Whincup surmised. “To come down to the last lap of the last race like it did … it was such a mental battle, but at the end of the day we got the ultimate prize and it’s an unbelievable feeling.”
Team manager Mark Dutton echoed Whincup’s sentiments after the thrilling duel between Whincup and McLaughlin went all the way to the wire — the first time the championship lead had changed hands in the season’s final race since Whincup lost what would have been his first title to Garth Tander by a scant two points.
“It’s spectacular, what Jamie’s accomplished,” said Dutton. “No one could deserve it as much as he does. He works tirelessly, in and out of the track … he’s a consummate professional and an absolute athlete. He raised the bar for everyone in Supercars. Everyone’s responded to what he’s done and it’s been amazing to watch … J-Dub is just ahead of them all right now.”
Whincup admitted that even though there was a mathematical chance he could win the championship on Sunday, he had partially conceded it based on the extraordinary odds facing him going into the title-decider.
“You never say die in racing, but I’ll be honest, I had half written myself off because we needed a lot of luck,” said Whincup. “Somehow, it came our way. (McLaughlin) had a lot of bad luck after we had ours in the Saturday race, and it swung in our favor.”
Whincup admitted that despite his own historic achievement, he sees a lot of history yet to be written by McLaughlin as well.
“I have massive respect for car (No.) 17 and Scott,” he said. “He’ll probably go out and win the next eight (championships) now. It was a proper battle this year. We did what we could, grabbed every point we could and it all worked out.”
Even so, Sunday was all about one more accomplishment for Whincup, and his establishment among the true elites in auto racing across the world.
About the Writer
Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network, as well as a periodic contributor to SPEED SPORT Magazine.
Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.
The 23-year-old is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as the full-time tour announcer for the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.
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