We are into the final stretch of the season. The final frontier at the Newcastle 500.
Last year the Drivers’ Championship battle came down to the wire in Newcastle but this year we are looking at the other title, the Teams’ Championship.
With a total of 576 points up for grabs and only 116 points between us and our mates next door, the Red Bull Holden Racing Team isn’t going to shy away from a challenge.
But the narrow and tight 2.6-kilometre street circuit isn’t for the faint-hearted.
“With only two practice sessions of 30 minutes each, a corner radius change and some resurfacing to the track, both Shane and Jamie will need to turn up with their A game,” Mark ‘Dutto’ Dutton said.
“Qualifying is critical at Newcastle, as it is a track that can be very difficult to pass on. It also helps keep you out of getting tangled up with others.”
No pressure! Although if you ask us, it’s almost as if you can feel the eagle eyes on the team.
“We have worked incredibly hard as a team all year to be in the position we are in, so we won’t be trying to do anything ‘special’, we won’t be changing our approach,” said Dutto.
“We are going to treat it just like every other round.”
The back end of the calendar has certainly seen the bulls gain momentum and our fingers are crossed the final round is ‘just like any other round’.
“We have had some good car pace recently so there is no reason why that shouldn’t transfer to Newcastle,” said J-Dub.
“We are going to try and round out the year as well as we can but it’s a hard track, so we will see what happens.”
Newcastle also means that it’s back to the regular round dynamics and it will be unusual not having Craig Lowndes and Garth Tander in the garage.
“It will be a bit different this round and I assume we need to peel an eight off to get back to 88,” J-Dub said.
“Lowndesy will no doubt be lingering in and out of the garage thanks to his commentating, but it’s a shame we won’t be sharing the car anymore.”
Switching gears and views to another scenic track along the coastline is something that makes this round one of the favourites.
“We enjoy Newcastle the most as we get to go for a swim at the beach in the early mornings and hit the track mid-morning, it’s fantastic,” said J-Dub.
“Everyone just wants to finish off the year and go into the end of season break as happy as possible.”
Happy and with a possible tan after Newcastle sounds like a plan!
Catch all the action from the final frontier on our Twitter account from Friday, November 23.
Jamie’s Newcastle Predictions:
Fastest lap time on the track: 01:10.88
Who’s the one to watch at Newcastle: Shane van Gisbergen
Biggest Challenge at Newcastle: Passing other cars.
Three words to describe Newcastle: On the beach.
Favourite moment at Newcastle: Jumping into the shark infested harbour in 2017. (Check it out: Flashback: Whincup wins 2017 Championship)
Shane’s Newcastle Predictions:
Fastest lap time on the track: 01:10.50
Who’s the one to watch at Newcastle: The heat.
Biggest Challenge at Newcastle: The heat.
Three words to describe Newcastle: Hard to pass.
Favourite moment at Newcastle: The first Newcastle 500 in 2017.