Supercars great Mark Skaife says Scott McLaughlin’s 2017 championship heartbreak is the reason he’s become the sport’s dominant force.
The DJR Team Penske star was left devastated on the streets of Newcastle after being pipped to the 2017 title by Holden’s Jamie Whincup.
Rather than crumble however, McLaughlin bounced back to claim his maiden championship 12 months later.
Since then the New Zealander has been almost unstoppable in the 2019 title, claiming eight race wins from 12 starts this year to head into this weekend’s Winton SuperSprint with a 142-point championship lead.
Skaife, who won eight of his first 10 races in 2002 on his way to his fifth and final driver’s championship, believes McLaughlin wouldn’t be where he is now without the agony of 2017.
“You only get to that level when you’ve experienced both sides of the coin,” Skaife told AAP.
“You actually have to recognise why you’re doing it and why you love it.
“The disaster of finishing Newcastle in 2017, that will have haunted him.
“But when you can come back and the following year win the championship in a similar scenario and then be driving as well as you’re driving now, you drive home of a night and you jump on the aeroplane and you say ‘Whew, jeez, I’m actually going alright at the moment’.”
Underpinning McLaughlin’s success is his red-hot qualifying form, with the 25-year-old winning eight pole positions already in 2019 including P1 for the past four races.
Skaife says McLaughlin’s qualifying form is comparable to the greats of Australian motorsport.
“You’re actually watching history,” Skaife said.
“He’s roughly been – from a pole position perspective – on pole for about 25 per cent of his races.
“His qualifying performances, they’re as good as any of the superstars we’ve seen. Whether it’s a (Peter) Brock, a Whincup, a (Marcos) Ambrose, a (Craig) Lowndes. It’s benchmark stuff.”