Jamie Whincup fought back from a mid-race disaster to beat team-mate Craig Lowndes to victory in the Sandown 500.
Whincup’s chances had appeared dashed prior to the halfway mark, with a late decision to drag co-driver Paul Dumbrell out of the car at the third pitstop resulting in it being left in second gear.
The resultant spinning of the rear wheels earned a drive-through penalty that mired Whincup down in 25th.
Whincup was able to claw his way back into contention despite an absence of Safety Cars in the second half of the race.
Whincup eventually took the lead from Lowndes with little over 10 laps remaining as the #888 entry began to struggle on fading tyres.
Lowndes cruised home second ahead of Will Davison, whose Ford Performance Racing Falcon made the finish despite a gearbox oil leak.
Davison’s race had looked all but over after his car’s first pitstop, where it had fallen to the back while stacking behind the sister entry of Mark Winterbottom/Steven Richards.
Richards had pitted on the opening lap after stalling on the grid; putting him out-of-sync with the Davison car.
Winterbottom later led Lowndes and Whincup into the penultimate stint, but a slow wheel change subsequently put paid to their chances of anything better than a sixth place finish.
The Lee Holdsworth/Craig Baird Mercedes took Erebus Motorsport’s best result yet in fourth, shadowing Davison to the flag.
Fifth for James Courtney and Greg Murphy was a positive result for the Holden Racing Team after a string of early disasters.
Murphy had received two black flags for loose rear bodywork during his opening stints; the same fate that had befallen the team’s Garth Tander/Nick Percat entry in the opening laps.
Tander eventually took the flag in 22nd after a torrid day that included a long pitstop to fix steering damage that had been sustained in a clash with David Wall.
Others in trouble included Tony D’Alberto/Jonny Reid (sticking throttle), Jason Bright/Andrew Jones (steering), Maro Engel/Steven Johnson (brakes), James Moffat/Taz Douglas (suspension), Scott Pye/Paul Morris (steering) and Tim Blanchard/Ashley Walsh (accident).
Walsh triggered the second Safety Car of the day on Lap 35 when he made heavy contact with the tyre barrier at the high-speed Turn 6 after leaving the road while pressuring Baird.
The first full-course yellow had been called on Lap 19 to address a dislodged apex cone at Turn 6, while the final Safety Car on Lap 66 was again for debris, this time at Turn 6.
Whincup now leads the standings by an extended 96 point margin over Lowndes, who has jumped ahead of both Davison and Winterbottom with today’s result.
See below for the full race result
|1||J.Whincup/P.Dumbrell||Holden Commodore VF||161||03:22:54.62|
|2||C.Lowndes/W.Luff||Holden Commodore VF||161||03:23:02.81|
|3||W.Davison/S.Owen||Ford Falcon FG||161||03:23:12.56|
|4||L.Holdsworth/C.Baird||Mercedes E63 AMG||161||03:23:13.53|
|5||J.Courtney/G.Murphy||Holden Commodore VF||161||03:23:20.77|
|6||M.Winterbottom/S.Richards||Ford Falcon FG||161||03:23:21.14|
|7||F.Coulthard/L.Youlden||Holden Commodore VF||161||03:23:25.87|
|8||S.McLaughlin/J.Perkins||Holden Commodore VF||161||03:23:27.93|
|9||R.Ingall/R.Briscoe||Holden Commodore VF||161||03:23:33.15|
|10||A.Premat/G.Ritter||Holden Commodore VF||161||03:23:44.50|
|12||S.Van Gisbergen/J.Bleekemolen||Holden Commodore VF||161||03:23:54.26|
|13||J.Webb/M.Lieb||Holden Commodore VF||161||03:23:55.18|
|14||C.Mostert/D.Wood||Ford Falcon FG||161||03:24:04.30|
|15||A.Davison/J.McIntyre||Ford Falcon FG||160||03:22:56.45|
|17||D.Reynolds/D.Canto||Ford Falcon FG||160||03:23:03.97|
|18||D.Fiore/M.Halliday||Holden Commodore VF||160||03:23:06.06|
|19||D.Wall/C.Pither||Holden Commodore VF||160||03:23:07.02|
|21||T.Slade/A.Thompson||Mercedes E63 AMG||159||03:23:17.33|
|22||G.Tander/N.Percat||Holden Commodore VF||152||03:23:33.77|
|23||T.D’Alberto/J.Reid||Holden Commodore VF||152||03:23:58.16|
|24||J.Bright/A.Jones||Holden Commodore VF||147||03:23:19.98|
|25||M.Engel/S.Johnson||Mercedes E63 AMG||143||03:23:37.57|
|DNF||S.Pye/P.Morris||Holden Commodore VF||135||02:56:03.57|
|DNF||Ashley Walsh||Ford Falcon FG||33||42:25.70|
See below for the updated points standings
|7||Shane Van Gisbergen||1770|