A mistake from the spikeman to release Jamie Whincup from the pits early caused the seven-time champion to lose a wheel and ultimately retire from Race 9 at Phillip Island.
A nightmare day for Whincup saw Triple Eight enact an alternate strategy designed to lift its driver up in the race after qualifying an unusually low 17th having battled a lack of grip from his ZB Commodore.
While the majority of the field pitted within two laps of the pit window opening, Whincup entered the lane on lap 11 having climbed to fourth spot by virtue of the earlier stops.
He left the lane with the right front not sufficiently tightened and the wheel soon parted company from the car.
Whincup attempted to bring the car back to the pits before team owner Roland Dane made the final call to stop the car.
Having analysed the pit stop, Triple Eight team manager Mark Dutton explained that the right front wheel was initially slow to come off the car due to the wheel nut being over tight.
Ironically this is believed to have occurred due to the squad’s new wheel retainer clips introduced at Tasmania after Shane van Gisbergen lost a wheel at Albert Park.
The spikeman is expected to only release the car once he sees four light appear on the pit boom, which are triggered by the crew on each corner of the car.
“The spikeman released the car too early unfortunately,” said Dutton, after the team were fined $5,000 and hit with the loss of 30 teams points for the loose wheel infringement.
“It is one of those things, it is just a simple mistake, everyone is trying to do it as quick as you can.
“The funniest thing is we have got new retainers on which we ran at Tassie and they work better, so what happens there is sometime the nut creeps and when it goes against the retainers it gets a little bit tight.
“It only took an extra half second if that for Kris Goos (wheelman) to loosen off the nut but the spike man made a mistake there.
“He didn’t press the light accidentally or anything like that, and you can see from the television that he is still trying to gun it on as the car is leaving. He did his best to gun it on.”
Dutton ruled out the theory that the crew being under pressure to salvage Whincup’s day was the cause of the issue.
“Pit lane was pretty clear,” he added.
“I think there was one other car so I don’t think there was any merge issue.
“We weren’t saying ‘We need to do an absolutely lightning stop’.
“With the poor qualifying position we had taken more risk with the car, it is clear, we ran on and it was working.
“All that was going well. The guys had done a really good and quick stop on Shane’s car earlier.”
Having been on the back foot in regard to set-up on Whincup’s car for the majority of the weekend, Dutton is hopeful that improvements made in the race can lead to a more positive showing on Sunday.
“We have some ideas,” he added.
“We have been testing quite heavily some different set-ups because we are trying to close up the ground. When you test some things work some things don’t.
“We have got some good direction for tomorrow but until you get back on track and prove it, you don’t know.”
While Whincup failed to finish, team-mate van Gisbergen finished sixth as the second best Holden behind David Reynolds (Erebus Motorsport) in fourth.
Shell V-Power Racing completed a commanding one-two headed by Scott McLaughlin.