Whincup wins Newcastle season finale; Slade departs BJR with a podium

Jamie Whincup has taken out the season finale at the Coates Hire Newcastle 500, but it was not enough to prevent Shell V-Power Racing taking the teams’ title.

Polesitter Whincup held off a rejuvenated Fabian Coulthard, who scored his second podium of the weekend to head into the summer break on a high.

Coulthard’s championship-winning teammate Scott McLaughlin ran fourth, with Shane van Gisbergen recovering to seventh after running a three-stop strategy from 21st on the grid.

Joining Whincup and Coulthard on the podium was Tim Slade in a feel-good story as the Brad Jones Racing driver stares down the barrel of being without a full-time drive in 2020.

But it was Whincup who bounced back from a mistake in yesterday’s race to take full momentum into the off-season with his fifth win of the year, equalling van Gisbergen’s mark.

It also was the Red Bull Holden Racing Team’s seventh straight race win, having taken out every start since McLaughlin’s Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 triumph.

“I’m really proud of everyone, they fought hard until the end,” Whincup said.

“We didn’t have that much performance at the start of the year, but we chipped away and two wins this weekend for the team gives us confidence going into next year that we can certainly be contenders.

“Hopefully we can take it to them next year, but congratulations to Scotty, he did a great a job.”

Coulthard meanwhile was pleased to help deliver the teams’ title to Shell V-Power Racing.

“We came here with a goal and that was to wrap up the teams’ championship and our results over the weekend have done enough to do that,” Coulthard said.

“Our boys at Shell V-Power Racing did an unbelievable job and gave us both great cars, so it’s a credit to them.”

McLaughlin added he is “so glad to finally be able to celebrate with my team.”

Strategy played into the #88 star’s hands, capitalising on a longer first stint compared to early stoppers Cameron Waters and McLaughlin when the Safety Car was deployed on lap 24.

The cause was the Penrite Racing Holden of Anton De Pasquale buried in the tyre barriers after contact with James Courtney through the Turn 5-6 complex.

De Pasquale had come out in front of the Walkinshaw Andretti United #22 on cold tyres and refused to relent, ending up in the fence on the outside.

Waters and McLaughlin led the pack from the lap 30 restart but were at a fuel disadvantage that would see them fall back through the second pitstop phase.

McLaughlin came close to getting by Slade on the BJR Commodore’s outlap from his final stop on lap 52 but the latter kept his cool, paving the way for his first podium since the Australian Grand Prix in March.

Slade is not expected to return to BJR next season and appears set to find himself as the priority name on the 2020 co-driver market.

“The guys have done an awesome job with the car all weekend,” Slade said.

“My guys always do a fantastic job and it’s great to reward them with this… so congrats to the whole team, awesome way to finish the year.”

Behind McLaughlin, Scott Pye made it seven successive top seven finishes, aside from the Sandown sprint race, to round out his WAU tenure, with Chaz Mostert next in sixth.

Van Gisbergen passed Cameron Waters, Todd Hazelwood and Nick Percat in his final stint to take seventh.

James Courtney drove an underrated race to 11th, having had to pit for damage from the De Pasquale incident before copping a drive-through penalty for an unsafe release in pitlane.

Andre Heimgartner was the top Kelly Racing runner in Nissan’s final Supercars appearance.

Richie Stanaway meanwhile was Garry Rogers Motorsport’s best finisher in 15th, while James Golding made it home in 20th after surviving a run into the barriers.

Right at the start, Lee Holdsworth and David Reynolds’ races came undone on the exit of the first corner.

Pye dived down the inside of Reynolds and bumped him into the outer wall, with Holdsworth unlucky to be caught up with nowhere to go in front.

While Reynolds managed to hang onto the lead lap – finishing 16th – Holdsworth required plenty of repair time and at one point parked the car before returning, eight laps down.

Holdsworth dropped below Percat to 10th in the points as a result, in the only position change to the championship’s top 10.

Whincup wins Newcastle season finale; Slade departs BJR with a podium

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