Shell V-Power Racing’s Scott McLaughlin said he was surprised championship rival Jamie Whincup did not shut the door as the Kiwi made a race winning overtake in the closing stages of the Coates Hire Melbourne 400.
McLaughlin led from pole, fending off a charge from the Red Bull Holden Racing Team driver in the opening corners, before Whincup made an earlier stop to execute the undercut.
Stopping on Lap 11, McLaughlin rejoined behind Whincup who gained the advantage of track position, before the former made the crucial move on Lap 17, diving down the inside at Turn 3.
On the exit, Whincup went door to door with the Falcon before McLaughlin eventually prevailed at Turn 5.
“I was surprised (Whincup left room at Turn 3) because the couple of laps before I was actually quite strong into there and looked a couple times.
“Then when I went, he was strong in the initial part of the brake, but the later part of the stop I was stronger so I was able to dive.
“I had to use first (gear) to stop it, but it pulled up nice and we’ve had really good lock margin all weekend where we’re able to stop the car before locking the front right or whatever and thankfully it did that.”
McLaughlin explained the overtake may not have worked out had the shoe been on the other foot.
“If the shoe was on the other foot, we probably would’ve banged doors a few times, because that’s what we do, that’s how we race and race hard.
“Obviously (I) just wanted to get through and got on with it.”
The New Zealander felt tyre degradation for he and his DJR Team Penske stable mate Fabian Coulthard was better than most of the cars around them.
But with rain in the forecast for Saturday and Sunday, any tyre concerns will be thrown out the window on a wet circuit.
“Really strong,” he said of the tyre degradation.
“Better than the cars around us. Once I got past Jamie I basically just backed the truck up and just tried to just bring it home to the end.
“We had some really good data from Fabian because he was coming obviously at Jamie, so for us to look back over tonight is going to be great.
“I think its going to be wet the next few days so I don’t think we’ll have to worry about it.
“It’s going to beep it up, I’m just glad I’ve qualified up the front – anytime you get wet, street circuit, painted lines and you’re in the middle of the field, its no good.”
Race 4 of the Virgin Australian Supercars Championship takes place on Saturday at 1240 AEDT.