It’s been a big year if you drive a Ford Mustang with the iconic #17 on the window.
This weekend’s Sandown 500 saw Ford’s hero car win two championships across two series, albeit with a significant generational gap between them.
In the Supercars championship, Scott McLaughlin was able to defend his 2018 title by notching up a top ten finish, claiming enough points from his 18 victories this season to win the trophy before the final round in Newcastle.
While the celebrations at Dick Johnson Racing Team Penske were subdued, the Johnson family had double the reason to celebrate as Steven Johnson won the Touring Car Masters title for Team Johnson, driving the iconic “Mustang Sally” to its third championship in a row in his hands.
It’s been a big year for both teams and the two titles are a reflection of the professionalism across both championships. DJRTP had to work hard at the end of last season when they were homologating this year’s Mustang while sending off the Falcon on its final flight, ultimately delivering the sedan its 17thchampionship.
Team Johnson has also had a lot going on this year to distract them, maintaining Mustang Sally while also building an XD Falcon for next year’s TCM championship tilt after delays in the build pushed it back from making a potential debut this year.
A double-double at Bathurst highlighted the strength of the duo as Johnson won the first TCM race at Mount Panorama and McLaughlin and co-driver Alex Premat delivered DJR their first Bathurst victory since 1994, a race where Dick Johnson combined with Steven’s sparring partner John Bowe to win in mixed conditions.
Things might change next year in both camps as the XD makes its debut in TCM, looking to keep Johnson at the front of the pack or at least ahead of fellow four-door Falcon runner, Marcus Zukanovic.
In Supercars land, lessons learnt from this year are leading to wholesale technical changes in the category as the brains trust for the series looks to reduce downforce and engine power in the hope of regaining parity after a tough year for those who don’t drive a Mustang.
Though McLaughlin has proved himself as one of the best over the past few Supercars seasons, next year will be his true test as his rivals at Triple Eight have formed a resurgence late in 2019, coming home strong to close out the year and threaten to take the nearly obligatory team’s championship honours from DJRTP.
With only two races left in the Supercars season, there will be a spring in McLaughlin’s step and one hell of a party coming up for the team if they are able to seal the team’s title, currently sitting 110 points ahead of Triple Eight as Fabian Coulthard holds down fourth in the driver’s standings.