An Australian Supercars legend says Kiwi Scott McLaughlin is "even better than me" and reckons he has the data to prove it.
McLaughlin has already claimed his second consecutive Supercars title before the 2019 finale in Newcastle, after a controversy hit year in which he won Bathurst and crushed all comers.
Some opponents have questioned the legitimacy of McLaughlin's Ford Mustang and suggested his victory is more about the car than driver.
But his DJR Team Penske co-owner Dick Johnson has told the Daily Telegraph that McLaughlin is "already a great".
The 74-year-old Johnson is sometimes described as touring cars' greatest living driver – he was champion five times and won three Bathurst 1000s.
And Johnson says confidential race data from a test session in Queensland showed him why McLaughlin was so exceptional.
"He was getting on the throttle way earlier than anyone else and getting drive out of the middle of the corner that should not be possible," Johnson said.
He said McLaughlin should already be ranked alongside Jamie Whincup, who has seven titles, and Craig Lowndes, with three, as a modern day greats.
Johnson said: "Without a doubt he is already up there. I don't think he will just challenge them, I think he will surpass them. He is still young, only 26, and he has a lot in front of him.
"I think he is better than me already.
"It is hard to compare against eras, but I reckon he has me. I couldn't do some of the things that he is doing.
"He has extraordinary talent. He will break all the record if that is what he wants to do.''
Johnson said the Queensland Raceway tests this year showed how good McLaughlin really was.
"He could get it out and get speed from the middle of the corner, which few can do. He can just make the car dance to his tune," said Johnson.
"He has so much talent. The talent that he has, he is one of these guys that can just get so much extra out of a car.
"He has also surprised a few with what he can do on a simulator.''
McLaughlin's celebrations have been muted and Johnson said that was a result of the controversial reaction to his dominant year.
"Only we know how much work he has put into this and what it really means to him," Johnson said.
"I think he was a little disappointment with the external shit. I think it has made him a little disappointed and he really didn't celebrate that one like he should have.''