Scott McLaughlin snatched victory in Race 35 after long time leader Garth Tander ran out of fuel on the run to chequered flag at the Plus Fitness Phillip Island 400.
Tander seemed likely to secure the win for the Holden Racing Team having led the majority of the race, but his Commodore spluttered on the pit straight on the final lap, allowing early leader McLaughlin to triumph.
The victory was McLaughlin’s second of the weekend and his fourth of the season, moving him to fifth in the championship.
“I’m so pumped but I feel for Garth. He drove an awesome race and that was all I had,” said McLaughlin.
“I’ve seen it happen before but I never, ever thought it would happen for me.”
Tander rolled home in second with Mark Winterbottom completing the podium for Ford Performance Racing.
It was even start from the front row men of McLaughlin and Jamie Whincup with the Volvo eventually muscling his way in front after brushing the champion into the Southern Loop.
Tander made the most of the slight contact between the front two as he jumped from fourth to second with a slick move on Whincup at Turn 3. Winterbottom produced a solid start to hold fourth ahead of Shane van Gisbergen and Michael Caruso.
With the field requiring to complete a 120 litre fuel drop, pit strategy would prove crucial with the first stops arriving on the opening lap. Nine cars headed by James Courtney, including Lowndes elected to duck into the pits.
At the front McLaughlin quickly opened up a 2.6s lead from Tander in the opening 10 laps before the latter made his first stop on lap nine. He was followed in by third-placed Whincup.
McLaughlin pitted a lap later but was unable to maintain his advantage as Tander claimed a net lead from the Volvo.
Behind, Lowndes charged up into the top 10 courtesy of an impressive move around the outside of Nick Percat and Rick Kelly at Turn 1.
The race was neutralised on lap 15 when David Wall steamed into the gravel trap at Turn 12. The Dick Johnson Racing driver pulled up just short of the barrier and was able to continue.
But the deployment of the Safety Car saw the entire field come into the pits.
There was frantic action in the pit lane with teams forced to double stack.
The narrow pit lane produced contact between Jack Perkins and Will Davison while David Reynolds and Jason Bright also collided. Reynolds was issued a pit lane penalty for an unsafe release.
Racing resumed on lap 17 with Tander leading McLaughlin while Winterbottom jumped Whincup in the pits for third spot. Lowndes rejoined the race in 14th having been forced to double stack behind team-mate Whincup.
As Tander opened up a second lead over McLaughlin, the attention soon switched to the battle for fourth with van Gisbergen all over the back of Whincup.
McLaughlin mounted a charge for the victory in the closing stages with the Volvo shadowing the Western Australian’s every move.
The pair fought out a thrilling tussle in the final laps with McLaughlin heaping the pressure on Tander.
In the end, the victory came down to the final 100 metres as Tander suddenly lost power on the run to the flag which allowed McLaughlin to take the chequered flag.
An out of fuel Tander trundled home in second with Winterbottom holding off Whincup for third.
Van Gisbergen finished fifth ahead of Erebus Motorsport’s Will Davison and Brad Jones’ Racing’s Jason Bright.
Elsewhere, Lowndes fought back to finish in 10th position.
Race 35 Results
|1||Valvoline Racing GRM||Scott McLaughlin||Volvo S60||45||01:13:59.6921|
|2||Holden Racing Team||Garth Tander||Holden Commodore VF||45||01:14:00.1442|
|3||Ford Pepsi Max Crew||Mark Winterbottom||Ford Falcon FG||45||01:14:04.6736|
|4||Red Bull Racing Australia||Jamie Whincup||Holden Commodore VF||45||01:14:05.0871|
|5||Team Tekno VIP Petfoods||Shane Van Gisbergen||Holden Commodore VF||45||01:14:12.6919|
|6||Erebus Motorsport V8||Will Davison||Mercedes E63 AMG||45||01:14:16.0584|
|7||Team BOC||Jason Bright||Holden Commodore VF||45||01:14:19.7382|
|8||Walkinshaw Racing||Nick Percat||Holden Commodore VF||45||01:14:20.0916|
|9||Norton Hornets||Michael Caruso||Nissan Altima||45||01:14:21.0006|
|10||Red Bull Racing Australia||Craig Lowndes||Holden Commodore VF||45||01:14:22.0111|
|11||Wilson Security Racing||Scott Pye||Ford Falcon FG||45||01:14:22.8820|
|12||Jack Daniel’s Racing||Rick Kelly||Nissan Altima||45||01:14:25.8770|
|13||Holden Racing Team||James Courtney||Holden Commodore VF||45||01:14:26.3262|
|14||Erebus Motorsport V8||Lee Holdsworth||Mercedes E63 AMG||45||01:14:26.9581|
|15||Jack Daniel’s Racing||Todd Kelly||Nissan Altima||45||01:14:27.3450|
|16||Lockwood Racing||Fabian Coulthard||Holden Commodore VF||45||01:14:27.8142|
|17||Ford Pepsi Max Crew||Chaz Mostert||Ford Falcon FG||45||01:14:28.4960|
|18||Supercheap Auto Racing||Tim Slade||Holden Commodore VF||45||01:14:29.6810|
|19||Norton Hornets||James Moffat||Nissan Altima||45||01:14:31.2997|
|20||Team Advam/GB||Dale Wood||Holden Commodore VF||45||01:14:40.6326|
|21||Team JELD-WEN||Jack Perkins||Ford Falcon FG||45||01:14:40.9698|
|22||Valvoline Racing GRM||Robert Dahlgren||Volvo S60||45||01:14:43.3560|
|23||The Bottle-O Racing Team||David Reynolds||Ford Falcon FG||45||01:14:53.4210|
|24||Repair Management Aust Racing||Russell Ingall||Holden Commodore VF||44||01:14:15.1501|
|DNF||Wilson Security Racing||David Wall||Ford Falcon FG||15||27:53.7138|
|4||Shane Van Gisbergen||2508|