Jamie Whincup has won an unprecedented seventh Supercars title after Scott McLaughlin's championship dream turned to ruin during an epic finale in Newcastle.
The Holden superstar celebrated just his fourth win of the season as McLaughlin squandered a 78-point series lead and pole position despite getting off the canvas three times in Sunday's 250km race.
In one of the sport's most remarkable climaxes, McLaughlin kept on fighting and got into a title-winning position before he was hit with a third penalty for what appeared to be a telling pass with three laps remaining.
A 25-second penalty confirmed Whincup's triumph, taking the championship by 21 points.
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"I didn't have a clue across the line, I assumed I'd come second. What a roller coaster," Whincup said.
"We fought hard. We didn't have the quickest car all year but it's all about teamwork and sport is all mental."
A shattered McLaughlin apologised to fans and sponsors after the heartbreak.
"I wish I could get it done for them but at least we got the teams' championship," he said.
"I'm 24 years old, I'll have another crack yet."
The New Zealander's flying start from pole position wasn't a portent of things to come.
He was slapped with a penalty for speeding on his first entry to pit lane early in the race.
McLaughlin began weaving his way back into a desired position before an error drew a 15-second penalty on the 47th lap.
His Falcon made contact Simona de Silvestro's Altima, causing her to spin out of turn two.
After Taz Douglas ploughed into the wall on the 55th lap, a safety car brought McLaughlin back to the field bumping him up to 16th.
As McLaughlin embarked on another charge, Whincup's teammate Shane van Gisbergen allowed him to pass.
Scott Pye let McLaughlin pass on the 67th lap, putting him into 13th and edging him closer to the 11th placed-finish he needed to clinch the championship.
Three laps later, the safety car was on the track again but there was more chaos after the restart.
McLaughlin's Falcon was damaged after contact from Pye and retiring veteran Jason Bright.
But the DJR Team Penske ace rose from the ashes again, getting into 11th as he went past Whincup's Triple Eight Racing teammate Craig Lowndes, who was sandwiched into the wall as McLaughlin made his move.
"I knew we were close, but I didn't think we were that close," McLaughlin said.
"I just defended the line to (turn) two and then we got interlocked. I genuinely didn't mean to push him into the wall."
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