McLaughlin fights back: I won’t be bullied out
FROM loveable larrikin to a tall poppy target, Scott McLaughlin will not fast-track his dream of going to America to become a NASCAR driver because of claims he is not a legitimate V8 champion.
In his first interview since he refused to celebrate his championship victory following a bombshell Bathurst charge, the DJR Team Penske star declared he would not flee Australia to pursue a NASCAR career because of controversy and criticism.
"No I won't (be leaving Australia) because of this,'' McLaughlin said.
"I won't be scared off by anything. I am here to race cars for my team and I will do what they need me to do.''
Sitting down with The Daily Telegraph ahead of the season-ending Newcastle 500, which begins on Friday, McLaughlin revealed why he did not celebrate at the conclusion of the Sandown 500, when he became just the 10th driver in history to claim back-to-back crowns.
McLaughlin sealed his second straight championship just hours after he was stripped of his Bathurst 1000 top-10 shoot-out win for using an engine that did not meet Supercars' specification.
"I was a bit over it,'' McLaughlin said.
"Don't get me wrong. I was happy at Sandown, but I just wanted to get out of there and hang out with the team. I needed to get away from it all and we did that. We had a few drinks that night and a really good team dinner.''
McLaughlin said he was floored by the engine charge, which came just weeks after a "team orders'' charge threatened to cost him his Bathurst crown.
"As far as I am concerned I have just tried to control what I can control,'' McLaughlin said.
"And that has been my emotions off the track. I have just done my best to control my emotions. What is done is done and at the end of the day, my job is to drive the thing as fast as I can.
"Ninety-nine, point nine per cent of the year has been unbelievable. The last month hasn't been the best for everyone involved but I am still proud of how everyone has stuck together and just got on with things.''
Once universally adored after storming on to the scene as a rookie, McLaughlin admitted he had been forced to adjust to the high level of criticism that came with being a champion.
"It is different to what it used to be,'' he said.
"For sure, but I wouldn't say it is harder. When you are the subject of talk it is because you are doing really well. People focus on you and people want to beat you. That is just the way it is.
"I am who I am but I guess in some ways I have grown up over the last year or two with what has gone on in my life. I have been up and down but I feel like I have stayed pretty similar the whole time. My love the sport hasn't changed and the love for what I do hasn't changed.''
McLaughlin said he still had a desire to race NASCAR - but he defiantly declared he would not flee Australia because of criticism.
"For me I am focused on the next race,'' McLaughlin said.
"I will just wait for the call to come.''
Also admitting for the first time that he wants to claim more V8 records, McLaughlin said he would not be changing his approach to racing.
"I get in the car and I drive it as fast as I can,'' McLaughlin said.
"I have done that since I was a little kid. The only way I know is hard and fast. At the end of the day, it sometimes pulls me up. Sometimes I do have a crash. But I don't want to change the way I approach things because it has got me to where I am.
"The records thing motivates me, absolutely, but for me it is more about going out and driving the thing as fast as I can.''
And McLaughlin vowed to make up for his missed celebration at Sandown by putting on a party in Newcastle.
"I am very proud of what I have achieved,'' he said.
"It was a different scenario for me this year coming in as the champion. It was a unique experience for me and it took some getting used to. At the start of the year I put a fair bit of pressure on myself to perform and I had to really control that because I was overdoing it.
"I feel like I controlled that and I got better and better. This has been the best year of my life and my results have shown that. I have been able to get the team together and be able to compete. To win the number of races we have, well it has been a bloody good year.''
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