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ANALYSIS: The dominant Supercar seasons

SCOTT McLAUGHLIN is crushing it in the 2019 Supercars Championship and is in the process of stringing together the most dominant season in recent memory. But how dominant is it?

WORDS: TheRaceTorque.com staff IMAGES: Mark Walker

To find out, we’ve crunched the numbers from this year and put them in context with seven other beatings delivered in the last 25-odd years by some of the biggest names in the sport.

Note that we’re only counting races that pay points towards the championship, so even though Craig Lowndes won the championship, Sandown and Bathurst in 1996, we’re only looking at the regular-season numbers in this context.

1996 Craig Lowndes

Bursting onto the scene with that Bathurst 1000 drive in 1994, Lowndes first full-time season with the Holden Racing Team was what truly put him on the map. HRT was about to enter a golden age and the sport was about to enter into a sustained period – save for his overseas jaunt in 1997 – of sustained CL domination that created the folk hero we have today.

THE SEASON: 30 races for the season – 10 events

16 wins – 53%

20 podiums – 67%

3 poles – 30%

287 laps led of 510 – 56%

Average starting position – 2.9

Average finishing position – 4.6

DNF – 4 (2 crashes, 2 mechanical)

DNS – 1 (Phillip Island Race 3 after monster shunt also involving John Bowe)

Other race winners in season – 6 (Bowe, Glenn Seton, Larry Perkins, Russell Ingall, Wayne Gardner, Peter Brock)

Best streak – 8 wins (Lakeside race 1 to Mallala race 2)

1998 Craig Lowndes

AFTER his hiatus in 1997 to chase the F1 dream, Lowndes returned to HRT in 1998 and though there was a stout challenge from Russell Ingall’s Castrol Commodore, never really looked like being beaten. His 1998 title would set HRT on a path of domination for the next five years – the next time they would lose the championship would be to a bloke called Ambrose in 2003..

THE SEASON: 29 races for the season – 10 events (race three at Calder washed out)

14 wins – 48%

22 podiums – 76%

2 poles – 20%

220 laps led of 519 – 42%

Average starting position – 3.5

Average finishing position – 2.9

DNF – 1 (Winton)

DNS – 1 (Darwin race 2 – engine)

Other race winners in season – 4 (John Bowe, Russell Ingall, Mark Skaife, Jason Bargwanna)

Best streak – 5 wins (Mallala race 3 to Calder race 1)

2002 Mark Skaife

AT the very peak of his very considerable powers, Skaife utterly dominated the 2002 season en route to his third-straight championship. He won the first five rounds, won Bathurst with Jimmy Richards again and won the title by 658 points. Quite remarkably, it was the last time the Holden Racing Team would win the title in its Walkinshaw-owned time..

THE SEASON: 29 races for the season – 13 events

15 wins – 52%

18 podiums – 62%

5 poles – 38%

446 laps led of 1465 – 30%

Average starting position – 6.2

Average finishing position – 7.2

DNF – 5 (all mechanical)

DNS – 0

Other race winners in season – 7 (Marcos Ambrose, Jason Bright, Russell Ingall, Greg Murphy, David Besnard/Simon Wills, Bargwanna, Todd Kelly)

Best streak – 4 wins (Phillip Island race 2 to Eastern Creek race 3)

2007 Garth Tander

OFTEN overlooked, GT’s 2007 title may have only been won by two points – but in reality was much more dominant than the final standings show. A Bathurst non-finish cost Tander in the points-tally, not helped by the fact that his closest rival Jamie Whincup won. But any year you win more than 40% of the races is worthy of reference in this company..

THE SEASON: 37 races for the season – 14 events

15 wins – 41%

19 podiums – 51%

3 poles – 8%

446 laps led of 1746 – 26%

Average starting position – 4.6

Average finishing position – 5.9

DNF – 3

DNS – 0

Other race winners in season – 8 (Todd Kelly, Rick Kelly, Jamie Whincup, Mark Skaife, Craig Lowndes, Lee Holdsworth, Steven Richards, Mark Winterbottom)

Best streak – 5 wins (Barbaglla race 1 to Pukekohe race 2)

2008 Jamie Whincup

A DOMINANT win to Jamie Whincup and the first of his seven (currently) titles. Jamie sealed Triple Eight’s first crown in the first of three races in the Sydney finale… and then promptly failed to finish race two! Still, he won the title by 253 points. Meanwhile, the remainder of the Supercars world had absolutely no idea what they were about to be subjected to over the next decade..

THE SEASON: 37 races for the season – 14 events

15 wins – 41%

23 podiums – 62%

4 poles – 29%

570 laps led of 1705 – 33%

Average starting position – 4.1

Average finishing position – 4.1

DNF – 1 (Oran Park)

DNS – 3 (Hamilton following qualifying shunt with Todd Kelly)

Other race winners in season – 8 (Garth Tander, Will Davison, Mark Winterbottom, Craig Lowndes, Steven Richards, James Courtney, Todd Kelly, Rick Kelly)

Best streak – 7 wins (Bathurst to Oran Park race 1)

2012 Jamie Whincup

AFTER winning in 2008-08, Whincup’s 2012 title delivered him a fourth championship and his second back-to-back. Won lots, but when he couldn’t win he finished second or third and the 80% podium strike-rate is proof of that – there’s only one driver with a better top three rate on this list, and we’ve not got to him yet. Won it with a round to spare in a T8 1-2.

THE SEASON: 30 races for the season – 15 events

12 wins – 40%

24 podiums – 80%

7 poles – 47%

553 laps led of 1901 – 29%

Average starting position – 4.6

Average finishing position – 3.7

DNF – 1 (crash with Will Davison, Phillip Island)

DNS – 0

Other race winners in season – 3 (Will Davison, Mark Winterbottom, Craig Lowndes)

Best streak – 4 wins (Abu Dhabi race 1 to Winton race 1)

2014 Jamie Whincup

IT Must have been disappointing to win the title by only 128 points the year before – so Jamie Whincup smashed them to win his (then record) sixth title by 583 points. This was despite an early-season blip that saw him finish no higher than fourth across an eight-race swing in Winton, Pukekohe and Perth. He was on the podium in 16 of the next 24..

THE SEASON: 38 races for the season – 14 events

14 wins – 37%

21 podiums – 55%

2 poles – 14%

673 laps led of 2060 – 33%

Average starting position – 5.0

Average finishing position – 4.8

DNF – 0

DNS – 0

Other race winners in season – 10 (Craig Lowndes, James Courtney, Fabian Coulthard, Lee Holdsworth, Mark Winterbottom, Jason Bright, Shane Van Gisbergen, Scott McLaughlin, Chaz Mostert, Garth Tander)

Best streak – 3 wins (Townsville race 3 to Qld Raceway race 2)

2019 Scott McLaughlin

SO HERE we are. As we write, we’re half-way through the 2019 championship and witnessing a rout of – as the numbers show – almost unprecedented proportions. An 88% podium strike rate is the best of this list (and indeed, any season in the 1993-now era) and the current win-rate is also remarkable. Leads the points by more than an entire weekend’s worth of racing – and that’s despite not even starting one race after the warm-up lap shenanigans at the Grand Prix. If Car 17 maintains the rage, which will be enormously challenging, this could be the record-setter for some time to come.

THE SEASON (SO FAR): 16 races for the season – 7 events

12 wins – 75%

14 podiums – 88%

11 poles – 69%

413 laps led of 781 – 53%

Average starting position – 1.8

Average finishing position – 1.2

DNF – 0

DNS – 1 (AGP race 3 after parade lap shunt with Cameron Waters)

Other race winners in season – 3 (Chaz Mostert, Shane Van Gisbergen, Fabian Coulthard)

Best streak – 5 (Barbagallo race 2 to Darwin race 2)

The Ultimate Season

Winning percentage – McLaughlin 2019 (75% vs 53% Lowndes 1996)

Podium percentage – McLaughlin 2019 (88% vs 80% Whincup 2012)

Pole percentage – McLaughlin 2019 (69% vs 47% Whincup 2012)

Laps led percentage – Lowndes 1996 (56% vs 53% McLaughlin 2019)

*With the 20min sprint races utilised in 1996, in theory it would be easier to lead laps, with pit strategy not coming into play

Best streak – Lowndes 1996 (8 vs 7 Whincup 2008)

*McLaughlin’s streak of 5 wins is still ongoing

Most other race winners – Tie 2007 & 2008 on eight

Least other race winners – Tie 2012 & 2019 on three

…although this season is ongoing

It’s interesting to note, of these seven dominant seasons, four have drummed up stats in the did not start column.

Scotty Versus the GOAT

Even though McLaughlin is in the midst of a career defining season, he still has a long way to reign in the stats of Jamie Whincup.

Active years in Supercars: 18 Whincup, 8 McLaughlin

Races: 480 Whincup, 211 McLaughlin

Wins: 113 Whincup, 37 McLaughlin

Winning Percentage: 23.5% Whincup, 17.5% McLaughlin

Poles: 77 Whincup, 57 McLaughlin

Podiums: 231 Whincup, 77 McLaughlin