McLaughlin 'didn't die wondering' in Sydney showdown
Scott McLaughlin says he 'didn't die wondering' in his late-race showdown with the Red Bull Holdens under lights in Sydney.
The Kiwi found himself the lone Penske Ford in a heated battle pack for the lead that involved three Triple Eight Holdens in the closing stages in Sydney, having been left in the firing line thanks to a poorly-timed Safety Car after dominating much of the race.
There was plenty of panel-rubbing with the Red Bull Holdens as well, as McLaughlin tried to hold off title rival Shane van Gisbergen for the lead, and then Jamie Whincup for second once van Gisbergen had skipped through.
In the end he was unsuccessful on both counts, forced to settle for third. However he stressed post-race that he had at the very least given it his all.
"I tried my best, I wasn't going to die wondering holding Shane and Jamie back," he said.
"Hopefully it was a good show for the fans. I'm sure it was, from my seat it was pretty full-on at times but all fair, all hard racing, no favours and I just really enjoyed it."
McLaughlin also emphasised that protecting his points lead rather than taking risks was never part of his thinking during his battle with the Red Bulls.
"I wanted to win the first night race. I was trying my hardest," he said.
"I knew that Shane, at the moment, we're the closest together. We knew we had a reasonable gap back and it was [Craig] Lowndes in fourth who was on the same amount of tyre as me.
"I felt like if I could just hold him back and maybe heat his tyres up... By the end of the race I'd realised I probably had no chance, but I gave it my best shot."
McLaughlin did, however, admit that without the late Safety Car – sparked by Todd Hazelwood's Ford shedding its rear wing in spectacular fashion – he would have been able to win the race.
"I felt like we had a really good car today, if not the best," he said. "I was really controlling the pace at the start and even in the middle there, and came out in front of Craig and we were like 'this is okay'...
"And then I saw Todd go off at the end of the straight and that was pretty full-on, so I'm glad he's alright. It is what it is."
Van Gisbergen, meanwhile, was equally revved up by the spirited battle with his title rival.
"It was an awesome race," he said. "He did a great job with blocking, right on the edge of what's allowed and placed the car perfectly.
"I gave him a few hits, one was unintentional when I locked a brake but otherwise it was awesome racing and you could see he was placing the car in good spots at Turn 1, especially, to take the front aero away.
"I'd sort of just given up for a lap and thought I'd give my tyres a chance to cool down and then come back, and he hit the marbles there.
"All race, I think everyone would've been hitting them; normally it's light and you can see them and drive around them, but it was like a minefield, you'd hit them and shudder for a couple of corners and unfortunately for him he hit them at the wrong spot.
"I always enjoy racing with Scotty, the race is always hard but fair, we always have good fights."
McLaughlin continues to lead the series, although his gap has now been slashed to 89 points.
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