Jamie Whincup has regrouped from a mistake one lap earlier to set the fastest time of Practice 2 at the Coates Hire Newcastle 500.
The Red Bull Holden Racing Team driver lifted himself from eighth to first with a 1:10.3173s with the chequered flag out having just ruined a flyer.
In an ultra-tight final practice session of the 2019 Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, only 0.0666s covered the top four, which was rounded out by Cameron Waters, Shane van Gisbergen, and Scott McLaughlin.
Van Gisbergen (#97 Red Bull HRT ZB Commodore) was fastest after the first runs with a 1:10.3779s, which was almost a quarter of a second faster than McLaughlin’s Practice 1 benchmark.
Whincup was second at the time on a 1:10.5132s and McLaughlin (#17 Mustang) himself third having all but matched his best lap from the earlier half-hour session.
David Reynolds brought about a red flag after almost a dozen minutes due to being up the Turn 1 run-off area and struggling to engage reverse in the #9 Penrite ZB Commodore.
At that point, van Gisbergen remained on top with no improvement on his first run, while Fabian Coulthard (#12 Shell V-Power Mustang) had split the Red Bull Holden Racing Team entries by going second quickest with a 1:10.4853s.
McLaughlin made it both DJR Team Penske Mustangs between the Triple Eight ZB Commodores when he moved to 0.0213s off the pace shortly after the session restarted.
The champion-elect then had a moment when he ran long at Turn 1, before eking out a little more time to close to 0.0060s slower than van Gisbergen.
At one point inside the final two minutes, only 0.0821s separated first from sixth.
Whincup looked like he might upset that when he made the second sector more than a tenth of a second up on van Gisbergen, but locked the rears of the #88 ZB Commodore and ran on.
Waters instead took over the ascendancy with a 1:10.3230s, and Whincup was still down on his own best lap to the first sector when the chequered flag came out.
However, he clocked personal best second and third sectors to break the beam at 1:10.3173s.
“My car didn’t feel that flash then on good tyres, but it’s clearly quick,” observed Whincup.
“I think we’ve got some work to do tomorrow. But for P2, we’ll take it.
“I think our drive is OK, we’re just sort of struggling with a bit of turn, so we’ll work on getting them to turn through that change of direction a little bit faster.
“If we can do that, I think we’ll improve for tomorrow.”
Waters said, “Look, (I’m) pretty happy.
“We had a bit of an issue in Practice 1, not getting out at the end. We knew what the car was doing, so we had a pretty good swing at it between sessions. Just kept chipping away at it which is really good.
“Traditionally it’s been a track that hasn’t suited our cars, and that’s probably the best car I’ve had around here.
“Pretty happy, just hopefully it translates into tomorrow.”
Van Gisbergen was third courtesy of the 1:10.3s which he achieved on his first run, with McLaughlin and Reynolds completing the top five.
The rest of the top 10 was Mark Winterbottom (#18 Irwin Tools ZB Commodore), James Courtney (#22 Mobil 1 ZB Commodore), Coulthard, Todd Hazelwood (#35 SS Signs ZB Commodore), and Lee Holdsworth (#5 The Bottle-O Mustang).
Chaz Mostert (#55 Supercheap Auto Mustang) was 13th, Andre Heimgartner (#7 Plus Fitness Altima) was top Nissan driver in 15th, and Warren Luff ended up 21st in an ill Scott Pye’s #2 Mobil 1 ZB Commodore.
While the smoke haze remained over Newcastle, the session ran in significantly cooler weather than Practice 1 did.
Armor All Qualifying for Race 31 of the season starts tomorrow at 1050 local time/AEDT.
Results: Practice 2
|1||88||Red Bull Holden Racing Team||Jamie Whincup||Holden Commodore ZB||1:10.3173|
|2||6||Monster Energy Racing Team||Cameron Waters||Ford Mustang GT||1:10.3230||0:00.0057|
|3||97||Red Bull Holden Racing Team||Shane van Gisbergen||Holden Commodore ZB||1:10.3779||0:00.0606|
|4||17||Shell V-Power Racing Team||Scott McLaughlin||Ford Mustang GT||1:10.3839||0:00.0666|
|5||9||Penrite Racing||David Reynolds||Holden Commodore ZB||1:10.4237||0:00.1064|
|6||18||Irwin Racing||Mark Winterbottom||Holden Commodore ZB||1:10.4248||0:00.1075|
|7||22||Mobil 1 Racing||James Courtney||Holden Commodore ZB||1:10.4456||0:00.1283|
|8||12||Shell V-Power Racing Team||Fabian Coulthard||Ford Mustang GT||1:10.4474||0:00.1301|
|9||35||Bigmate Racing||Todd Hazelwood||Holden Commodore ZB||1:10.5283||0:00.2110|
|10||5||The Bottle-O Racing Team||Lee Holdsworth||Ford Mustang GT||1:10.5721||0:00.2548|
|11||99||Penrite Racing||Anton De Pasquale||Holden Commodore ZB||1:10.5740||0:00.2567|
|12||8||Timken Racing||Nick Percat||Holden Commodore ZB||1:10.6057||0:00.2884|
|13||55||Supercheap Auto Racing||Chaz Mostert||Ford Mustang GT||1:10.6322||0:00.3149|
|14||14||Freightliner Racing||Tim Slade||Holden Commodore ZB||1:10.6948||0:00.3775|
|15||7||Plus Fitness Racing||Andre Heimgartner||Nissan Altima||1:10.7046||0:00.3873|
|16||33||Boost Mobile Racing||Richie Stanaway||Holden Commodore ZB||1:10.7717||0:00.4544|
|17||15||Castrol Racing||Rick Kelly||Nissan Altima||1:10.8242||0:00.5069|
|18||23||Milwaukee Racing||Will Davison||Ford Mustang GT||1:10.8888||0:00.5715|
|19||3||RABBLE.club Racing||Garry Jacobson||Nissan Altima||1:10.9057||0:00.5884|
|20||21||Team CoolDrive||Macauley Jones||Holden Commodore ZB||1:10.9201||0:00.6028|
|21||2||Mobil 1 Racing||Warren Luff||Holden Commodore ZB||1:11.0686||0:00.7513|
|22||19||Truck Assist TEKNO Racing||Jack Le Brocq||Holden Commodore ZB||1:11.1023||0:00.7850|
|23||78||Team Harvey Norman||Simona De Silvestro||Nissan Altima||1:11.1023||0:00.7850|
|24||34||Boost Mobile Racing||James Golding||Holden Commodore ZB||1:11.4306||0:01.1133|