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Payne didn’t want to jinx first win

MATT Payne has recounted a nervous run to the chequered flag with a maiden Supercars victory in sight.

Payne was dominant in the final race of the season yesterday, finishing 8.8483s clear of nearest rival Broc Feeney – who coincidentally took out the last race of 2022 as a rookie.

While it looked comfortable from the outside, it was anything but inside the cockpit of the #19 Grove Mustang.

“It was getting to about halfway through the race and I was like, ‘I think it’s going to happen today. I don’t want to say anything yet because I know I could probably jinx myself pretty easily’,” said the Kiwi.

“It was a long, long last 10 laps.

“I was just hoping nothing was going to go wrong or that there was going to be a Safety Car.”

The 85th race winner in ATCC/Supercars Championship history, Payne joins an even more special club of rookie winners featuring the likes of Feeney, Scott McLaughlin, Chaz Mostert and Craig Lowndes.

“It’s obviously a real privilege to join a group of guys like that and I think it ultimately sets us up really well for 2024,” he said.

“I think we can hit the ground running and be really competitive.”

Payne finished the season 14th in the championship and with plenty of praise from veteran teammate David Reynolds, who is heading to Team 18 next year.

“He’s been threatening to do that for a while now and he’s been so fast all weekend so he thoroughly deserves it,” said Reynolds.

“I’ve seen all the effort he puts into his job from behind the scenes, he may not seem very outward on the surface but he lets his talent do the talking and today he showed everyone that.”

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