Scott McLaughlin claims his 13th Supercars win of season
SUPERCARS championship leader Scott McLaughlin has become the first driver in a decade to win seven consecutive races in the category, taking out Saturday's 200km event in Townsville.
The DJR Team Penske driver made the most of a pit-lane mishap for pole-sitter David Reynolds before overcoming a bold strategic play by Jamie Whincup to secure his 13th win of a dominant 2019 season.
McLaughlin now holds a 358-point lead on the championship standings and is closing in on Craig Lowndes' record of 16 race wins in a single season in 1996.
It's the first time since 2008 a driver has won six or more races in a row, with Lowndes' overall record of eight in 1996 under threat.
Yet the win was far from straightforward for McLaughlin, who started third on the grid behind Reynolds and Ford's Chaz Mostert.
While the 26-year-old got the better of Mostert in lap 19 after a two-lap tussle for position, it wasn't until the second set of pit stops two-thirds into the 70-lap race that Reynolds faltered.
The Penrite Racing driver lost crucial seconds during his second pit stop after a crew member attempted to fit a tyre with the wrong wheel nut, the delay to find the correct item effectively removing Mostert from contention.
Reynolds went on to finish sixth behind McLaughlin's teammate, Fabian Coulthard, who salvaged a fifth-place finish after starting 13th on the grid.
McLaughlin then had to find a way past Whincup - a 10-time winner on the streets of Townsville - who had used an alternate fuel strategy to climb from sixth on the start line to the race lead.
Using his fresher tyres and the superior pace of his Ford Mustang, McLaughlin clawed away at Whincup's advantage and hit the front with 20 laps to go.
From there no one could stop the New Zealander, who crossed the finish line almost five seconds clear of Whincup with Mostert finishing third.
The Townsville 400 wraps up on Sunday with a second 200km race.