Whincup denies Nissan historic pole position
Nissan Motorsport has narrowly missed out on an historic pole position in a dramatic conclusion to Race 25 qualifying at Winton.
Altima team-mates Michael Caruso and James Moffat sat one-two heading into the traditionally hectic final minutes.
Jamie Whincup managed to eclipse Caruso’s best by 0.17s with just 90 seconds on the clock, leaving all eyes on the Norton Nissan.
Caruso went faster again to the second sector before falling off the road at the penultimate corner, stranding himself in the mud on the exit.
With Race Control electing against displaying the red flags, Caruso will still start second behind Whincup, who scored his 11th pole of the season.
“I went for glory at the end there, we were up on a better lap, tipped it in at 11 and parked it in the mud,” recounted Caruso later.
“(But) it’s good that the speed is there, there’s no doubt about it.”
Moffat, who joins Caruso and Erebus driver Maro Engel in trialling a revised fuel blend this weekend, was unable to improve late and remained third.
Fabian Coulthard, Mark Winterbottom, Shane van Gisbergen, Jason Bright, James Courtney, Will Davison and David Reynolds completed the top 10.
By contrast to Nissan’s heroics, the 20 minutes proved a struggle for the Erebus Mercedes entries.
Tim Slade will start last after an early mistake saw him bogged in the muddy infield, resulting in a lengthy red flag.
Team-mates Maro Engel and Lee Holdsworth could manage just 24th and 25th respectively.
Fancied runners to struggle included Craig Lowndes (18th), Chaz Mostert (19th) and Scott McLaughlin (23rd).
See below for the full Race 25 qualifying result
|1||Red Bull Racing Australia||Jamie Whincup||Holden Commodore VF||01:22.21|
|2||Norton 360 Racing||Michael Caruso||Nissan Altima||01:22.23||00:00.02|
|3||Norton 360 Racing||James Moffat||Nissan Altima||01:22.26||00:00.04|
|4||Lockwood Racing||Fabian Coulthard||Holden Commodore VF||01:22.29||00:00.08|
|5||Pepsi Max Crew FPR Ford||Mark Winterbottom||Ford Falcon FG||01:22.33||00:00.12|
|6||TEKNO Team VIP||Shane Van Gisbergen||Holden Commodore VF||01:22.36||00:00.15|
|7||Team BOC||Jason Bright||Holden Commodore VF||01:22.36||00:00.15|
|8||Holden Racing Team||James Courtney||Holden Commodore VF||01:22.36||00:00.15|
|9||Pepsi Max Crew FPR Ford||Will Davison||Ford Falcon FG||01:22.36||00:00.15|
|10||The Bottle-O FPR Ford||David Reynolds||Ford Falcon FG||01:22.37||00:00.16|
|11||ekol Racing||Scott Pye||Holden Commodore VF||01:22.37||00:00.16|
|12||Team HIFLEX||Tony D’Alberto||Holden Commodore VF||01:22.38||00:00.17|
|13||Jeld-wen FPR Ford||Alex Davison||Ford Falcon FG||01:22.38||00:00.17|
|14||Supercheap Auto Racing||Russell Ingall||Holden Commodore VF||01:22.40||00:00.19|
|15||Jack Daniel’s Racing||Rick Kelly||Nissan Altima||01:22.52||00:00.30|
|16||Holden Racing Team||Garth Tander||Holden Commodore VF||01:22.58||00:00.37|
|17||Jack Daniel’s Racing||Todd Kelly||Nissan Altima||01:22.60||00:00.38|
|18||Red Bull Racing Australia||Craig Lowndes||Holden Commodore VF||01:22.61||00:00.39|
|19||Wilson Security Racing||Chaz Mostert||Ford Falcon FG||01:22.63||00:00.41|
|20||Wilson Security Racing||Tim Blanchard||Ford Falcon FG||01:22.65||00:00.43|
|21||Fujitsu Racing GRM||Alexandre Premat||Holden Commodore VF||01:22.71||00:00.50|
|22||Tekno Autosports||Jonathon Webb||Holden Commodore VF||01:22.72||00:00.51|
|23||Fujitsu Racing GRM||Scott McLaughlin||Holden Commodore VF||01:22.73||00:00.51|
|24||SP Tools Racing||Maro Engel||Mercedes E63 AMG||01:22.86||00:00.64|
|25||Irwin Racing||Lee Holdsworth||Mercedes E63 AMG||01:22.96||00:00.75|
|26||Dodo Insurance Racing||Dean Fiore||Holden Commodore VF||01:22.98||00:00.77|
|27||Wilson Security Racing||David Wall||Holden Commodore VF||01:23.03||00:00.82|
|28||Heavy Haulage Australia Racing||Tim Slade||Mercedes E63 AMG|