Scott McLaughlin has led from lights to flag to head home the three Triple Eight cars in Race 19 of the Supercars Championship at the Coates Hire Ipswich SuperSprint.
While McLaughlin’s status as the effective race leader was only briefly threatened, there was an entertaining on-track and strategic battle for the minors before Shane van Gisbergen finished 4.3164s adrift, with Craig Lowndes third and Jamie Whincup fourth.
Rick Kelly made a better start than the all-Shell V-Power Racing front row but found his path blocked by McLaughlin and the #12 FGX Falcon of Fabian Coulthard.
Coulthard initially pressured his team-mate but then dropped off the back of the #17 FGX Falcon and McLaughlin pitted from the lead for his compulsory pit stop on Lap 13.
He resumed just in front of Chaz Mostert, who was on an undercut and had only taken working side tyres compared to the standard all four corners.
McLaughlin staved off the #55 Supercheap Auto FGX Falcon and was not threatened thereafter as he took a seventh race win of the campaign and extended his Virgin Australia Supercars Championship lead to 143 points.
“That was awesome,” he said post-race.
“Thanks to everyone here. It’s been a massive support, obviously (driving car) 17 in Queensland’s very cool to be a part of it, so thank you for everyone.
“(It was a) Bloody good stop by my guys, Shell V-Power Racing gave me an awesome car all day and I’m just happy to reward them.”
Van Gisbergen had only qualified eighth but set up his race with a storming start which saw him run fifth into Turn 1 and already challenging Reynolds.
He cleared the #9 Erebus Penrite ZB Commodore at Turn 3 and picked off Kelly at the next corner to sit third before the end of the standing lap, before getting by Coulthard on Lap 13.
Van Gisbergen and Coulthard pitted a lap later and slotted back onto the track behind Lowndes, who used a slight undercut to vault himself forward from seventh before the pit stops cycle began.
On fresher tyres, van Gisbergen executed a criss-cross to take his #97 Red Bull HRT ZB Commodore past Lowndes through Turn 5 on Lap 18.
The 2016 champion ran down Mostert over the next half-dozen laps and drove past the lead Tickford Racing Ford up Dick Johnson Straight at the start of Lap 25.
That move left Mostert high and dry as Lowndes stuck the #888 Autobarn ZB Commodore down the inside at the end of the straight, and Coulthard got through at Turn 3.
Van Gisbergen did not look a threat to McLaughlin but at least minimised points deficit in second.
“Man, just (an) awesome battle,” he said.
“I just dropped the clutch and just away it went. (It was a) really cool first lap, lots of room given, great racing.
“Had a great battle with Fabian and then Craig after the pits, but Scotty was gone by that point.”
The final podium position became a close-run thing as a relatively late-pitting Whincup finished strongly.
Having sat eighth after the pit stop cycle shook out, the defending champion passed James Courtney, Reynolds, and Mostert, and ranged up on Lowndes.
Only 0.0423s separated #888 from the #1 ZB Commodore at the line, while Coulthard was 2.6330s further behind in fifth.
Earlier, Whincup had been cleared of wrongdoing when he got by Mostert at the end of Lap 3, moving Car #55 wide into Turn 6 before Mostert ran off the road entering the straight.
Mostert started from fifth after a grid penalty and finished sixth in the end, ahead of Reynolds and Courtney, the latter of whom reset his own lap record in the #25 Mobil 1 Boost Mobile ZB Commodore.
Michael Caruso (#23 Drive Nissan Altima) and Nick Percat (#8 Brad Jones Racing ZB Commodore) rounded out the top 10.
Kelly pitted just in front of Whincup but exited the lane just behind and faded in the latter stages to 13th, after some willing racing with Garth Tander.
Tander took 11th in the Wilson Security GRM ZB Commodore, one position ahead of Richie Stanaway (#56 Rabble.Club FGX Falcon).
Wildcard Kurt Kostecki finished 25th in the #42 Kostecki Brothers Racing VF Commodore.
Anton De Pasquale was 26th having had to stop a second time in the #99 Erebus Motorsport ZB Commodore to tighten a wheel, and Todd Hazelwood finished five laps down due to a battery problem for the #35 Bigmate Racing FGX Falcon.
The next track action for Supercars is Armor All Qualifying for Race 20, tomorrow at 1040 local time/AEST.
Results: Supercars Coates Hire Ipswich SuperSprint Race 19
|1||17 Shell V-Power Racing Team||Scott McLaughlin||Ford Falcon FG/X||39||46:40.8181|
|2||97 Red Bull Holden Racing Team||Shane Van Gisbergen||Holden Commodore ZB||39||46:45.1345|
|3||888 Autobarn Lowndes Racing||Craig Lowndes||Holden Commodore ZB||39||46:46.6477|
|4||1 Red Bull Holden Racing Team||Jamie Whincup||Holden Commodore ZB||39||46:46.6900|
|5||12 Shell V-Power Racing Team||Fabian Coulthard||Ford Falcon FG/X||39||46:49.3230|
|6||55 Supercheap Auto Racing||Chaz Mostert||Ford Falcon FG/X||39||46:54.8867|
|7||9 Erebus Penrite Racing||David Reynolds||Holden Commodore ZB||39||46:55.1027|
|8||25 Mobil 1 Boost Mobile Racing||James Courtney||Holden Commodore ZB||39||46:55.3216|
|9||23 Drive Racing||Michael Caruso||Nissan Altima||39||46:55.7121|
|10||8 Summit Racing||Nick Percat||Holden Commodore ZB||39||46:57.4509|
|11||33 Wilson Security Racing GRM||Garth Tander||Holden Commodore ZB||39||47:00.6148|
|12||56 RABBLE.club Racing||Richie Stanaway||Ford Falcon FG/X||39||47:01.9054|
|13||15 Castrol Racing||Rick Kelly||Nissan Altima||39||47:02.2404|
|14||14 Freightliner Racing||Tim Slade||Holden Commodore ZB||39||47:02.5343|
|15||7 Plus Fitness Racing||Andre Heimgartner||Nissan Altima||39||47:02.8036|
|16||2 Mobil 1 Boost Mobile Racing||Scott Pye||Holden Commodore ZB||39||47:03.3734|
|17||120 Milwaukee Racing||Will Davison||Ford Falcon FG/X||39||47:03.4674|
|18||34 Wilson Security Racing GRM||James Golding||Holden Commodore ZB||39||47:04.3288|
|19||78 Team Harvey Norman||Simona De Silvestro||Nissan Altima||39||47:04.8070|
|20||5 The Bottle-O Racing Team||Mark Winterbottom||Ford Falcon FG/X||39||47:05.0460|
|21||19 Tekno Autosport||Jack Le Brocq||Holden Commodore ZB||39||47:05.3738|
|22||6 Monster Energy Racing||Cameron Waters||Ford Falcon FG/X||39||47:13.1287|
|23||21 Team CoolDrive||Tim Blanchard||Holden Commodore ZB||39||47:17.9531|
|24||18 Preston Hire Racing||Lee Holdsworth||Holden Commodore ZB||39||47:18.0169|
|25||42 Arcoplate Racing||Kurt Kostecki||Holden Commodore VF||39||47:19.0181|
|26||99 Erebus Motorsport||Anton de Pasquale||Holden Commodore ZB||39||47:42.3717|
|27||35 Bigmate Racing||Todd Hazelwood||Ford Falcon FG/X||34||47:24.8529|
|2||Shane van Gisbergen||2040|
|19||Anton De Pasquale||906|
|20||Jack Le Brocq||890|
|22||Simona de Silvestro||699|