McLaughlin claims Ipswich Supercars win

Laine Clark

The biggest cheer may have been for someone else but Ford's Scott McLaughlin had no complaints after extending his Supercars series lead with a dominant Ipswich SuperSprint opening win.

McLaughlin should have been the toast of Queensland Raceway on Saturday.

The flying Kiwi claimed his ninth pole position of the year before dominating the 39-lap opener, taking line honours more than four seconds ahead of nearest title threat, Holden's Shane van Gisbergen.

McLaughlin claimed his seventh win of the year and 23rd of his career.

And he extended his series lead from 131 to 143 points over van Gisbergen ahead of Sunday's 65-lap Ipswich finale.

Yet the clear crowd favourite was third placegetter Craig Lowndes.

The Queensland Raceway faithful erupted when the 44-year-old stepped up to the podium and was later mobbed as he continued his Supercars swan song.

Lowndes' popularity has gone to another level after announcing a fortnight ago that he would retire from full-time racing at season's end.

The Holden great gave them plenty to cheer about on Saturday, fighting his way to third after starting at 10th, adding to his remarkable Ipswich record.

It was Lowndes' 23rd podium finish - including 12 wins - in 45 races at the track.

Lowndes, who arrived at Ipswich fifth in the standings, hoped the support helped him have a title tilt in his last hurrah.

"Hopefully the crowds keep coming out and supporting the category as a whole," Lowndes beamed.

"I am more relaxed now (since retirement call). I will push hard for the rest of the season - a top three finish would be great."

Catching McLaughlin will be easier said than done after the Kiwi edged away from van Gisbergen, turning the tables on the Red Bull Racing driver after his Ford had no answer at the last round in Townsville.

"I can't do any more than I have. We won the race, I extended the (series) gap (on van Gisbergen)," McLaughlin said.

"We feel like we are bouncing back."

Van Gisbergen kept McLaughlin honest when he jumped from eighth to third in the first lap of Saturday's 120km opener.

He was second by the 14th lap but could not reel in his fellow Kiwi.

Holden's seven-time series champion Jamie Whincup was just pipped of a podium finish by Lowndes but his fourth placing moves him ahead of David Reynolds into third on the drivers' standings.

Ford's Chaz Mostert qualified second fastest but dropped to fifth after copping a three-place grid penalty for impeding van Gisbergen during practice.

He finished sixth.

Whincup tangled with Mostert on lap three of Saturday's race but escaped sanction.

Whincup wasn't so fortunate in practice, copping a $1000 fine for an incorrect pit lane exit.

Holden's James Courtney - who finished eighth - set a new race lap record of one minute, 09.65 seconds, eclipsing his 2017 mark by 0.07 of a second.