Scott McLaughlin was a comfortable winner in Race 22 at the Robson Civil Projects Townsville SuperSprint while Jamie Whincup finished fourth.
McLaughlin effectively led all 39 laps in the #17 Shell V-Power Racing Team Mustang and headed Tickford Racing’s Cameron Waters to the chequered flag by 3.4897s.
Chaz Mostert completed the podium at another 7.3258s further back, while Whincup’s bid for track position with a two-tyre pit stop was effectively neutralised by the time he reached the finish, and he now trails McLaughlin by 143 championship points.
Whincup did gain one position from where he emerged after the opening corners, but that was at the expense of Red Bull Holden team-mate Shane van Gisbergen, who retired with a power steering failure.
McLaughlin led the field to the first corner from pole position, ahead of van Gisbergen (#97 ZB Commodore), Mostert (#25 Mobil 1 Appliances Online ZB Commodore), and Waters (#6 Monster Energy Mustang), while Whincup wrested fifth from David Reynolds (#9 ZB Commodore) as they turned right into the permanent section of the Reid Park Street Circuit for the first time.
Reynolds had dropped about two seconds from the top five, each of whom were separated by around a second from each other, when Penrite Racing team-mate Anton De Pasquale (#99 ZB Commodore) went down his inside at Turn 2 on Lap 7.
Nick Percat (#8 R&J Batteries ZB Commodore) then got by Reynolds at Turn 3 on Lap 9, as McLaughlin stretched his lead over van Gisbergen beyond two seconds.
Scott Pye (#20 DeWalt ZB Commodore) had shown strong pace early on and, having qualified 17th, was into the top 10 when he passed Bryce Fullwood (#2 Mobil 1 Middy’s ZB Commodore) at the end of Lap 12
Pye then went down the inside of Fabian Coulthard (#12 Shell V-Power Mustang) at Turn 11 on Lap 15 in a move for eighth, given he did so as Reynolds ran long with a power steering issue.
Whincup was still fifth when he pitted on Lap 16, along with Coulthard from ninth, and the former pinched track position with a two-tyre stop.
McLaughlin enjoyed an advantage of 3.9s on van Gisbergen when the race leader peeled off on Lap 17 for three tyres, and rejoined around three seconds up on Whincup.
Mostert was in and out of the pits at the end of Lap 19 for a three-tyre change which saw him give up a spot to Whincup, and Waters split them after he also stopped for three tyres on the following lap.
Van Gisbergen, meanwhile, was still circulating in the nominal race lead before he pitted on Lap 21 with power steering fluid belching from his car, which caused him to almost skate into the wall at Turn 10.
Triple Eight put three rubber shod wheels and a new, larger steering wheel on the #97 ZB Commodore, and sent the New Zealander on his way.
However, officials responded by showing a mechanical black flag and that was the end of his afternoon.
Waters got past Whincup for an effective second at Turn 13 on Lap 23 and Mostert pulled off a similar, although arguably bolder, move on Lap 24.
When Pye finally pitted at the end of Lap 26, the cycle was done and McLaughlin led by 3.8s from Waters, then Mostert, Whincup, De Pasquale, Percat, Coulthard, Jack Le Brocq (#55 Supercheap Auto Mustang), Rick Kelly (#15 Castrol Mustang), and Pye.
Although Waters chipped a couple of tenths out of that margin, McLaughlin was untroubled thereafter, while Mostert put five seconds between himself and Whincup by the time they reached the chequered flag.
“We had a great qualifying car, which we worked on all this morning,” said McLaughlin.
“We didn’t touch the race car at all from last week so it bodes well for us.
“I’m feeling really happy, a bit tired but it’s all good. I’m pretty happy, just hot when I get out of the car.
“It’s fine, we’re good as gold and we’ll press on tomorrow without it (the cool suit).”
De Pasquale was a touch under two seconds further back from Whincup in fifth at the end, ahead of Percat, Coulthard, and Le Brocq.
Pye took ninth after a stoush with Kelly on Laps 32 and 33, and James Courtney also got the 2006 champion on Lap 35 to drive his #44 Boost Mobile Mustang into 10th.
Kelly therefore took 11th from 21st on the grid, Todd Hazelwood (#14 Black Duck ZB Commodore) salvaged 12th having plummeted from sixth to last when he appeared to stall at the start, and Team Sydney’s Alex Davison (#19 Local Legends ZB Commodore) finished 13th.
Andre Heimgartner made it to the end in 18th despite an intermittent misfire in the #7 Ned Mustang, while van Gisbergen and Reynolds were both DNFs.
The Virgin Australia Supercars Championship field is back on track tomorrow from 09:40 local time/AEST for a pair of 10-minute qualifying sessions.
Results: Race 22, Robson Civil Projects Townsville SuperSprint
|1||17||Shell V-Power Racing Team||Scott McLaughlin||Ford Mustang GT||39||49:20.9833|
|2||6||Monster Energy Racing||Cameron Waters||Ford Mustang GT||39||49:24.4730|
|3||25||Mobil 1 Appliances Online||Chaz Mostert||Holden Commodore ZB||39||49:31.7988|
|4||88||Red Bull Holden Racing Team||Jamie Whincup||Holden Commodore ZB||39||49:36.9911|
|5||99||Penrite Racing||Anton De Pasquale||Holden Commodore ZB||39||49:38.9719|
|6||8||R&J Batteries||Nick Percat||Holden Commodore ZB||39||49:48.3531|
|7||12||Shell V-Power Racing Team||Fabian Coulthard||Ford Mustang GT||39||49:50.5684|
|8||55||Supercheap Auto Racing||Jack Le Brocq||Ford Mustang GT||39||49:51.2496|
|9||20||DEWALT Racing||Scott Pye||Holden Commodore ZB||39||49:53.5220|
|10||44||Boost Mobile Racing||James Courtney||Ford Mustang GT||39||49:55.9679|
|11||15||Castrol Racing||Rick Kelly||Ford Mustang GT||39||50:00.5728|
|12||14||Team Black Duck||Todd Hazelwood||Holden Commodore ZB||39||50:03.8935|
|13||19||Local Legends Racing||Alex Davison||Holden Commodore ZB||39||50:04.8499|
|14||18||IRWIN Racing||Mark Winterbottom||Holden Commodore ZB||39||50:06.0677|
|15||35||Yellow Cover Racing||Garry Jacobson||Holden Commodore ZB||39||50:06.4510|
|16||5||Truck Assist Racing||Lee Holdsworth||Ford Mustang GT||39||50:06.7459|
|17||2||Mobil 1 TM Middy’s Racing||Bryce Fullwood||Holden Commodore ZB||39||50:18.2597|
|18||7||NED Whisky Racing||Andre Heimgartner||Ford Mustang GT||39||50:20.1337|
|19||3||Team CoolDrive||Macauley Jones||Holden Commodore ZB||39||50:22.7088|
|20||34||UNIT Racing||Jake Kostecki||Holden Commodore ZB||39||50:23.4934|
|21||22||Team SYDNEY||Chris Pither||Holden Commodore ZB||39||50:27.3173|
|22||4||SCT Motor Sports||Jack Smith||Holden Commodore ZB||31||50:16.9632|
|NC||97||Red Bull Holden Racing Team||Shane van Gisbergen||Holden Commodore ZB||21||27:10.0921|
|NC||9||Penrite Racing||David Reynolds||Holden Commodore ZB||16||22:01.6097|
|5||Shane van Gisbergen||1157|
|11||Anton De Pasquale||1003|
|15||Jack Le Brocq||836|