Jamie Whincup has won Race 19 at the NTI Townsville SuperSprint as championship leader Scott McLaughlin finished seventh from 16th on the grid, and Shane van Gisbergen ended up 19th.
Whincup prevailed by almost seven seconds, gaining 36 points on McLaughlin to now sit 141 behind in second in the standings.
While it was a victorious afternoon for one Red Bull Holden Racing Team driver, the other’s title hopes suffered a blow given van Gisbergen was involved in carnage at the first braking zone of the 39-lap affair.
Tickford Racing’s Cameron Waters was a distant second to Whincup and Walkinshaw Andretti United’s Chaz Mostert completed the podium, having at one point looked a chance of victory.
When the lights went out, Whincup (#88 ZB Commodore) was able to drive clear of follow front row starter David Reynolds (#9 Penrite ZB Commodore), who made a slow getaway and dropped behind Mostert (#25 Mobil 1 Appliances Online ZB Commodore).
When the field arrived at Turn 2, van Gisbergen (#97 ZB Commodore) unloaded Anton De Pasquale (#99 Penrite ZB Commodore) in the middle of the top 10, although he may well have been an innocent victim of a concertina and the matter will be investigated post-race.
In any event, the Triple Eight driver sustained significant damage in secondary contact with De Pasquale and an impact with Todd Hazelwood (#14 Black Duck ZB Commodore) as a melee ensued.
Andre Heimgartner (#7 Ned Mustang) and Macauley Jones (#3 CoolDrive ZB Commodore) also came off considerably worse for wear, and soon joined van Gisbergen and Hazelwood in the pits.
McLaughlin was not entirely unscathed from Turn 2, copping a notable whack in the rear end of the #17 Shell V-Power Mustang, but had managed to sneak to the inside of the mess and take up eighth position for the run up Charters Towers Road.
Up the front, Whincup saw off early pressure from Mostert but Reynolds chose not to fight when Waters (#6 Monster Energy Mustang) came down the inside at Turn 2 on Lap 6.
McLaughlin was first to pit, from eighth, on Lap 8 and took three new tyres.
However, his bid for clean air did not work out when Lee Holdsworth (#5 Truck Assist Mustang), who had been a position ahead of Car #17 before the stops, took service a lap later and resumed in the same relative position.
Mostert had fallen to over 3.5s behind Whincup when he pitted on Lap 16 for a four-tyre stop, and the race leader peeled off a lap later to take three tyres on #88.
Whincup appeared to have maybe even grown his advantage in that phase but Mostert set the then-fastest lap on Lap 18 and went fastest to the second sector on Lap 19 to quickly reduce the deficit to 1.55s.
McLaughlin had not been able to find a way past Holdsworth when he let DJR Team Penske team-mate Fabian Coulthard (#12 Mustang), who had not long pitted from an effective fifth, make an easy pass for a nominal 11th at Turn 11 on Lap 21.
Coulthard wasted little time in passing Holdsworth but Waters kept him at bay when the Tickford driver resumed from a relatively late compulsory pit stop at the start of Lap 24.
By then, most had pitted and Whincup was leading by just under a second from Mostert, with Reynolds third, and Scott Pye (#20 DeWalt ZB Commodore) an effective fourth but actually trailing Jack Le Brocq (#55 Supercheap Auto Mustang).
Waters was officially sixth before passing Pye at Turn 11 on his out lap, and Coulthard took advantage to also grab another spot.
It took a further three laps for Waters to pass Reynolds on the road for a second time and take up an actual and effective third position, with Le Brocq having by then pitted.
Ahead of them, the tide was starting to turn as Whincup got back out to a two-second lead on Lap 28.
Mostert in fact ceded second position to a fairly speedy Waters on Lap 35 at Turn 11 but Whincup was long gone by then and eventually won by 6.8858s.
“A bit of a challenge today; we lost radio around Lap 10,” revealed Whincup, who abandoned Car #88 on Boundary Street on the lap after the finish.
“I was screaming to the guys to put the board out. Then I didn’t get the chequered flag; I saw he had it out but he didn’t know if it was me or not. I just remembered what the old man always said; ‘Just keep going until you get the chequered flag’, so I thought I’d keep going.
“We changed the podium presentation in Darwin to the track for COVID reasons but I think we’ve changed it back to pit lane,” he added to further explain why he did not return to the pits.
“But I was just trying to wing it with no radio.
“All in all though, happy with the win, car was excellent. We used three tyres, I think most maybe only used two. We needed the win when we could grab it.”
Mostert got home in third and Coulthard fourth, the latter having passed Reynolds on Lap 33.
The Erebus drive remained fifth thereafter, from James Courtney (#44 Boost Mobile Mustang) and McLaughlin, with the top 10 filled out by Bryce Fullwood (#2 Mobil 1 Middy’s ZB Commodoere), Pye, and a recovering De Pasquale.
Van Gisbergen did get back out, initially eight laps down, and was ultimately last of the finishers.
Tomorrow’s Virgin Australia Supercars Championship action commences with back-to-back qualifying sessions from 10:40 local time/AEST.
Results: Race 19, NTI Townsville SuperSprint
|1||88||Red Bull Holden Racing Team||Jamie Whincup||Holden Commodore ZB||39||49:02.9724|
|2||6||Monster Energy Racing||Cameron Waters||Ford Mustang GT||39||49:09.8582|
|3||25||Mobil 1 Appliances Online||Chaz Mostert||Holden Commodore ZB||39||49:16.6394|
|4||12||Shell V-Power Racing Team||Fabian Coulthard||Ford Mustang GT||39||49:23.9422|
|5||9||Penrite Racing||David Reynolds||Holden Commodore ZB||39||49:25.6871|
|6||44||Boost Mobile Racing||James Courtney||Ford Mustang GT||39||49:32.3176|
|7||17||Shell V-Power Racing Team||Scott McLaughlin||Ford Mustang GT||39||49:35.8263|
|8||2||Mobil 1 TM Middy’s Racing||Bryce Fullwood||Holden Commodore ZB||39||49:37.6347|
|9||20||DEWALT Racing||Scott Pye||Holden Commodore ZB||39||49:44.4716|
|10||99||Penrite Racing||Anton De Pasquale||Holden Commodore ZB||39||49:44.5474|
|11||22||Team SYDNEY||Chris Pither||Holden Commodore ZB||39||49:44.8429|
|12||18||IRWIN Racing||Mark Winterbottom||Holden Commodore ZB||39||49:45.6873|
|13||5||Truck Assist Racing||Lee Holdsworth||Ford Mustang GT||39||49:46.7304|
|14||35||Yellow Cover Racing||Garry Jacobson||Holden Commodore ZB||39||49:49.2652|
|15||55||Supercheap Auto Racing||Jack Le Brocq||Ford Mustang GT||39||50:05.5862|
|16||4||SCT Motor Sports||Jack Smith||Holden Commodore ZB||39||50:05.8617|
|17||15||Castrol Racing||Rick Kelly||Ford Mustang GT||38||49:40.7483|
|18||19||Local Legends Racing||Alex Davison||Holden Commodore ZB||38||49:54.1647|
|19||97||Red Bull Holden Racing Team||Shane van Gisbergen||Holden Commodore ZB||30||49:35.3972|
|NC||8||R&J Batteries||Nick Percat||Holden Commodore ZB||23||29:32.2834|
|NC||34||UNIT Racing||Zane Goddard||Holden Commodore ZB||20||47:49.1147|
|NC||7||NED Whisky Racing||Andre Heimgartner||Ford Mustang GT||17||33:10.3938|
|NC||14||Team Black Duck||Todd Hazelwood||Holden Commodore ZB||7||30:03.6627|
|NC||3||Team CoolDrive||Macauley Jones||Holden Commodore ZB||1||1:39.0629|
|4||Shane van Gisbergen||1011|
|11||Anton De Pasquale||805|
|15||Jack Le Brocq||692|