Jamie Whincup scored an 88th career V8 Supercars Championship race win in the first of three heats for the weekend at the Sydney NRMA 500.
The Red Bull Holden driver made the best of the starts from the outside of the front-row to take the lead, before losing the ascendancy to Tim Slade during the pitstop cycle.
Whincup pitted in anticipation of a Safety Car when Mark Winterbottom buried his Ford in the Turn 1 tyre barrier on lap 10 of 37.
The six-time champion lost time at the exit when he momentarily waited behind the Safety Car, which had been deployed in wait of the leader.
The hesitation ensured that Slade, who pitted one lap later, rejoined ahead; setting up a battle between the duo following the resumption of racing.
Slade controlled two Safety Car restarts before eventually succumbing to an inside move from Whincup at Turn 9 with little over 10 laps remaining.
Whincup quickly charged away to record a three second win, with Slade holding off David Reynolds for a season-best second place.
“There was a bit of confusion with the Safety Car and I was probably over cautious,” explained Whincup afterward.
“I was thinking it was doing the wrong thing and was trying to help it out but really I should have just been concentrating on my own job and just passed it.”
Added Slade of the following battle: “I thought we were strong there after the pitstop because the car was pretty strong but I don’t know what Jamie was doing because once he got by he shot off.
“We just struggled a bit on the restart, but a massive thanks to my boys for putting me in that position.”
Scott McLaughlin survived a late rub with James Courtney for fourth ahead of Rick Kelly and Shane van Gisbergen, who had charged his way through from 18th on the grid.
Marcos Ambrose finished 20th in his return race, staying largely out of the action as he continues to readjust to the category.
The only notable moment for the Xbox Ford came in a battle with Russell Ingall, which saw the former team-mates make minor contact as the Holden made its way by.
“I was disappointed with myself after qualifying when I hit the wall and I was trying to be a good boy out there, following my old mate Russell,” said Ambrose.
“My biggest issue was that my window net kept falling down, so I had to keep holding it up during the race. I had my hands full.”
A full field of 26 cars took the start following repairs to Ambrose and Craig Lowndes’ entries following their qualifying crashes.
Only 23 took the chequered flag however, with Scott Pye and Todd Kelly both eliminated in a mid-race collision that resulted in the second full course yellow.
A brake problem saw Kelly spin at Turn 1 before the Nissan rejoined into the path of Pye, with the resulting side-to-side contact causing heavy damage to the Ford.
Will Davison joined the duo on the retirements list when he suffered a power steering failure while running fourth with 10 laps remaining.
A second 125km race is scheduled for 1650 local time.
Result: V8 Supercars Race 36, Sydney
|1||Red Bull Racing Australia||Jamie Whincup||Holden Commodore VF||37||01:01:50.6379|
|2||Supercheap Auto Racing||Tim Slade||Holden Commodore VF||37||01:01:53.7474|
|3||The Bottle-O Racing Team||David Reynolds||Ford Falcon FG||37||01:01:56.1073|
|4||Valvoline Racing GRM||Scott McLaughlin||Volvo S60||37||01:02:00.0863|
|5||Jack Daniel’s Racing||Rick Kelly||Nissan Altima||37||01:02:01.2426|
|6||Team Tekno VIP Petfoods||Shane Van Gisbergen||Holden Commodore VF||37||01:02:02.6403|
|7||Wilson Security Racing||David Wall||Ford Falcon FG||37||01:02:07.1157|
|8||Lockwood Racing||Fabian Coulthard||Holden Commodore VF||37||01:02:07.9956|
|9||Team BOC||Jason Bright||Holden Commodore VF||37||01:02:09.0612|
|10||Holden Racing Team||Garth Tander||Holden Commodore VF||37||01:02:10.1448|
|11||Holden Racing Team||James Courtney||Holden Commodore VF||37||01:02:13.9093|
|12||Walkinshaw Racing||Nick Percat||Holden Commodore VF||37||01:02:14.3315|
|13||Red Bull Racing Australia||Craig Lowndes||Holden Commodore VF||37||01:02:17.0014|
|14||Norton Hornets||James Moffat||Nissan Altima||37||01:02:17.4706|
|15||Ford Pepsi Max Crew||Chaz Mostert||Ford Falcon FG||37||01:02:17.9558|
|16||Team JELD-WEN||Jack Perkins||Ford Falcon FG||37||01:02:19.6555|
|17||Erebus Motorsport V8||Lee Holdsworth||Mercedes E63 AMG||37||01:02:19.9699|
|18||Valvoline Racing GRM||Robert Dahlgren||Volvo S60||37||01:02:20.9694|
|19||Repair Management Aust Racing||Russell Ingall||Holden Commodore VF||37||01:02:21.6122|
|20||XBOX Racing DJR||Marcos Ambrose||Ford Falcon FG||37||01:02:22.5458|
|21||Team Advam/GB||Dale Wood||Holden Commodore VF||37||01:02:27.1972|
|22||Norton Hornets||Michael Caruso||Nissan Altima||37||01:02:37.7961|
|23||Ford Pepsi Max Crew||Mark Winterbottom||Ford Falcon FG||33||01:02:29.7421|
|DNF||Erebus Motorsport V8||Will Davison||Mercedes E63 AMG||27||47:47.7006|
|DNF||Jack Daniel’s Racing||Todd Kelly||Nissan Altima||19||31:18.4976|
|DNF||Wilson Security Racing||Scott Pye||Ford Falcon FG||18||29:36.1828|