Having survived a wreckage-strewn race, four safety car interventions and fuel economy concerns, Garth Tander just kept Jamie Whincup at bay to clinch victory in the first race of the Adelaide Clipsal 500.

It was an exciting dash to the finish on the Adelaide street circuit, after Tander and Whincup had both followed similar fuel strategies. On the penultimate lap, the duo were running side-by-side at 200km/hr down the start-finish straight before Tander of Toll Holden Racing just edged ahead to take the win.

Whincup’s Team Vodafone teammate, Craig Lowndes claimed third to round out an all-Holden podium, having a monumental race after starting from 11th.

“It took a long time for me to get my first win here, and so it's a great feeling to win back-to-back,” said Tander. “Those laps we did under the safety car towards the end of the race meant fuel conservation wasn't an issue for anyone, so I knew Jamie would throw everything at me at the end,” he continued.

A poor start by Whincup initially let Kelly Racing's Rick Kelly and Garry Rogers Motorsport's Lee Holdsworth through before the first corner. But Whincup soon had the hammer down to get back ahead of Holdsworth on lap three and Rick Kelly on lap nine. He then closed down on Tander, who was carrying a heavier fuel load, passing him on lap 14.

There was chaos in the pit-lane as the majority of the field headed in to refuel on lap 25. Whincup maintained his lead, but a slow pit stop for Tander saw him slip back to third behind Rick Kelly.

Lap 30 saw the first of the four safety car appearances, as David Reynolds in the Stratco Racing Commodore went off into the sand trap at turn 11. This closed the field up for the lap 33 restart. Tander capitalised soon after, passing Kelly on lap 39 to take second.

The safety car was called on again on lap 46 as Steve Owen in the VIP Petfoods Commodore collided with the wall at turn eight. The impact wrenched the rear left suspension completely from his car. With just 32 laps to run, the bulk of the field dived into the pits, the teams gambling on there being more disruptions and this being a good opportunity to refuel to the end of the race.

The packed pit-lane again caused disruption. Lowndes lost ground queuing behind team-mate Whincup and Ford Performance Racing's Mark Winterbottom was prevented from leaving his pit-box by the two queuing Garry Rogers Motorsport cars.

Leading at the restart were Will Davison, Shane Van Gisburgen, Greg Murphy and Steven Johnson, who had all chosen not to stop. Close behind were Whincup in fifth and Tander in sixth, both of who had pitted.

Whincup and Tander made quick work of dispatching the cars ahead of them, getting up into second and third place behind FPR's Will Davison before he pitted on lap 55.

Tander, trusting he wouldn't have to back off the pace as much as Whincup in the fuel management phase crucially got ahead of the Team Vodafone driver, just two laps later.

Any anxieties about running out of fuel were eased when Jim Beam Racing driver James Moffat spun at turn nine on lap 60, colliding with Tony D'Alberto. Unable to continue, a lengthy safety car period ensued to remove the stricken Ford Falcon.

With just eleven laps left, the safety car retreated and Tander pushed on ahead of Whincup, Team BOC's Jason Bright and Bundaberg Racing's Fabian Coulthard. Lowndes, restarting in seventh sensing the need for urgency, swiftly rounded up Russell Ingall and Courthard in just one lap.

Ingall in the Supercheap Auto Racing car tried to follow Lowndes. Lunging through on Coulthard on lap 69, the two cars clashed causing steering arm failure for Ingall at turn 13. Ingall crashed heavily into the wall and the safety car emerged once more.

Contact with the tyre bundle at turn one meant a nervous few moments for Whincup as the left front wheel of his car began rubbing against the bodywork. But it didn't appear to hinder Whincup at the restart. With a new shortened distance of 76 laps, he attacked Tander, the two cars rubbing door handles across the start/finish line on lap 74. It was Tander though who came out on top, as Whincup appeared to back off.

This was Tander's third Clipsal race win and his 48th career race victory, equalling the late, great Peter Brock's record.

The win moved Tander up to eighth place in the overall standings, with Whincup expanding his lead at the top of the championship to 123 points over Mark Winterbottom.

It was a luckless day for 2010 champion James Courtney who fell victim to the tyre wall at turn seven on lap 20. His Toll HRT team worked quickly to repair a bent steering arm, but the trip to the garage cost Courtney ten laps. His misfortune continued when he was given a black flag penalty for cutting a chicane. He eventually recovered to finish 24th.

Race 3 results:

Pos Entrant Driver Vehicle Fastest Lap Fastest Lap Time Race Time Laps Points
1 Toll Holden Racing Team Garth Tander Commodore VE2 41 01:22:8227 02:07:57:1302 76 150
2 TeamVodafone Jamie Whincup Commodore VE2 37 01:22:8626 02:07:57:6722 76 138
3 TeamVodafone Craig Lowndes Commodore VE2 36 01:23:0237 02:07:59:6016 76 129
4 Team BOC Jason Bright Commodore VE2 54 01:23:3794 02:08:00:4539 76 120
5 Bundaberg Racing Fabian Coulthard Commodore VE2 54 01:23:3967 02:08:01:9444 76 111
6 Orrcon Steel FPR Falcon Mark Winterbottom Falcon FG 37 01:23:2101 02:08:02:2535 76 102
7 Jack Daniel’s Racing Todd Kelly Commodore VE2 29 01:23:8239 02:08:02:8961 76 96
8 Lucky 7 Racing Tim Slade Falcon FG 39 01:23:7832 02:08:04:1505 76 90
9 Trading Post FPR Falcon Will Davison Falcon FG 57 01:22:5050 02:08:04:6229 76 84
10 Team BOC Jason Bargwanna Commodore VE2 56 01:23:8413 02:08:05:9364 76 78
11 Jim Beam Racing Steven Johnson Falcon FG 57 01:23:4469 02:08:06:1744 76 72
12 Jack Daniel’s Racing Rick Kelly Commodore VE2 75 01:23:2057 02:08:06:7563 76 69
13 SP Tools Racing Shane van Gisbergen Falcon FG 57 01:22:8142 02:08:07:0268 76 66
14 Mother Energy Racing Team Jonathon Webb Falcon FG 55 01:23:3653 02:08:07:3711 76 63
15 Triple F Racing Dean Fiore Falcon FG 39 01:24:1799 02:08:08:8992 76 60
16 Fujitsu Racing GRM Michael Caruso Commodore VE2 38 01:23:7833 02:08:09:2621 76 57
17 Wilson Security Racing Tony D’Alberto Falcon FG 9 01:23:8469 02:08:10:9653 76 54
18 Pepsi Max Crew Greg Murphy Commodore VE2 4 01:23:8092 02:08:11:3298 76 51
19 Fair Dinkum Sheds Racing Karl Reindler Commodore VE2 57 01:23:8753 02:08:11:8567 76 48
20 Fujitsu Racing GRM Lee Holdsworth Commodore VE2 37 01:23:3134 02:08:12:7982 76 45
21 Gulf Western Oil Racing Warren Luff Commodore VE2 68 01:24:2132 02:08:14:2402 75 42
22 Stratco Racing David Reynolds Commodore VE2 4 01:23:9913 02:08:14:6484 74 39
23 Irwin Racing Alex Davison Falcon FG 34 01:25:0942 02:08:43:2184 71 36
24 Toll Holden Racing Team James Courtney Commodore VE2 46 01:22:6271 02:08:12:5509 66 33
25 The Bottle-O Racing Team Paul Dumbrell Falcon FG 42 01:23:5525 02:08:15:5421 63 30
DNF Supercheap Auto Racing Russell Ingall Commodore VE2 54 01:23:5161 01:54:05:2320 68 0
DNF Jim Beam Racing James Moffat Falcon FG 58 01:23:9776 01:28:57:0876 58 0
DNF VIP Petfoods Steve Owen Commodore VE2 42 01:24:1751 01:04:58:7053 44 0