Scott McLaughlin has claimed his first BP Supercars All Stars Eseries round in four weeks after winning a dramatic final race at the Michigan International Speedway.
McLaughlin featured at the front for most of the round but could never find a way past Shane van Gisbergen in the opening two races, before receiving some lady luck in the third, which helped the 2019 Virgin Australia Supercars Champion to the eventual Armor All round victory.
With a number of drivers, including van Gisbergen, making errors in the lead up to the evening’s biggest race and taking two pitstops instead of one, the door opened for McLaughlin to take the lead early.
Despite some early challenges from Bryce Fullwood, McLaughlin’s biggest threats came from Chaz Mostert and Anton De Pasquale until the final stages where Mostert made contact with De Pasquale, causing him to drop down the order and Mostert himself given a drive through penalty.
With Mclaughlin then cruising to victory over Jack Le Brocq who ended up on the podium for the first time since the series’ second race and special guest Jordan Boys, Mostert finished the race in fourth, less than a second ahead of Todd Hazelwood, Cameron Waters and De Pasquale.
Mclaughlin’s victory in the final race saw him add a much needed 150 points to his outright haul of points and with van Gisbergen finishing 14th, in the final race, the gap between the two was shortened, setting up an epic grand final next week.
Earlier in the night, a calm start to the round’s first race was soon forgotten as a number of cars were involved in multiple shunts, the most notable being van Gisbergen after he collided with Macauley Jones.
Falling well down the order didn’t hinder the series leader as he climbed back up the field to get back into contention alongside McLaughlin and De Pasquale.
With the trio locked in an intense battle and McLaughlin and De Pasquale swapping the lead multiple times, van Gisbergen timed his run to perfection, overtaking both on the final turn of the race.
Following the win, van Gisbergen, who has come back to Australia ahead of Supercars’ return to real racing at the end of the month, was pleased with pulling off the impressive comeback.
“It was an awesome race,” van Gisbergen said.
“This oval racing is a lot more enjoyable than we thought and that battle at the end was awesome. I was a bit aware of Jones earlier but couldn’t stop it. I saw him coming up the side and we eventually hit.
“To come back from so far back was awesome. Racing with everyone up front was really cool.”
The New Zealand driver’s habit of charging up the standings was once again utilised in the reverse grid as the he started from dead last but worked his way up the field to grab the lead off Fullwood midway throughout the race.
Aided by an early safety car period after what was a dramatic start to the evening’s second race, it didn’t take long for the top end drivers to find their way back to the front.
On lap 15, with the whole field compressed, disaster struck for De Pasquale as he made contact with the wall and dropped to the back as a result of the incident – his chances of securing the race win ended.
The pack racing continued all the way to the chequered flag as Fullwood battled hard with van Gisbergen for the lead, only for the leader to hold on to another race win ahead of McLaughlin who finished third.
David Reynolds continues his recent improvement to pick up a fourth place ahead of Fabian Coulthard, who rounded out the top five.
The BP Supercars All Stars Eseries Grand Finale comes back to Australia next week with the iconic Mount Panorama to once again feature, as well as the popular, former track in Oran Park, New South Wales.