Scott McLaughlin is back in a familiar position but desperately wishing for a different result.

This time last year, the Kiwi Supercars driver was in pole position for his first championship. Heading into the final race in Newcastle, he was 78 points ahead of Jamie Whincup.

Then, disaster. Three penalties, including one when making a late charge for the title through the field, saw him finish 18th, with Whincup winning the final race, and with it, the championship.

This time, McLaughlin holds a 14-point lead over Shane van Gisbergen with two races left this weekend in Newcastle, and admits he still hasn't brought himself to watch what happened last year.


"I haven't watched that race at all. I think it's a normal driver thing - I don't need to watch it, I know what happened, I just got on with it," said McLaughlin.

"I've looked at a lot of in-car footage from the Sunday race, because I made a lot of passes there, so it was definitely something to learn from, where we were strong.

"But the race itself, I've never watched the TV coverage. I've started watching a snippet of it and gone 'nah, can't watch it'."

McLaughlin is full of superstitions, also refusing to touch the Supercars trophy until he wins it.

"I don't touch any of the trophies I haven't won. It's a superstition thing - Richie McCaw used to do it with the Rugby World Cup, and he went pretty well after that," he said.

McLaughlin now has to hold off compatriot and 2016 champion van Gisbergen, with both drivers heading into the final two races in top form, having claimed a victory apiece in Pukekohe in the penultimate round earlier this month.

That weekend had a controversial finish, with van Gisbergen parking too close to McLaughlin after the race, boxing him in and not letting McLaughlin exit his car.

Some fans and commentators deemed it an attempt at intimidation but van Gisbergen toned down any issues between the pair, calling it "a fake rivalry".


"I probably didn't say enough about it," van Gisbergen said about the post-race incident. "It's shit, but it makes the story so much bigger for Newcastle. Everyone has made a fake rivalry.

"I think it's easy to forget how much Scotty and I respect each other and how much we enjoy racing each other.

"It's been awesome to see him grow the last few years. I think Newcastle is going to be epic, no matter which way it goes. It's been a really good season racing against him."