A clean sweep in the Coates Hire Ipswich 300 and a day to forget for Team Vodafone team-mate Jamie Whincup has put Craig Lowndes in sight of a first V8 Supercars championship in 12 years.
Following on from his two wins on Saturday at the Queensland Raceway, Lowndes took pole position and led the race from flag to finish in Sunday’s 65-lap event. Separated by less than two seconds for the duration of the race, Lowndes held off the weekend's other big winner, Lucky Seven Racing's Tim Slade, to cut Whincup’s series lead to 98 points with six rounds left.
“It's our home track and the guys did a sensational job here,” said an ecstatic Lowndes.
“We had great strategy going on and again to our guys, thank you it was a fantastic day.”
Taking third place behind Slade was SP Tools Racing's Shane van Gisbergen finishing over 30 seconds after his Stone Brothers Racing stable-mate, the first time since 2005 the team have finished the weekend with two of its drivers on the podium. Jim Beam Racing's James Moffat made it past fellow career-best finisher Stratco Racing's David Reynolds to take fourth with just five laps remaining. Toll Holden Racing Team's Garth Tander was one of the biggest movers, going from 19th to sixth while fellow Walkinshaw squad member Bundaberg Racing's Fabian Coulthard finished seventh with Irwin Racing's Alex Davison, Jim Beam Racing's Steve Johnson and Whincup rounding out the top ten.
Whincup had qualified second on the grid, but was forced to pit on the warm-up lap to remove the cover from his engine's injector trumpets that had been inexplicably left on for the race. Returning to the track as the field completed the first lap, the series leader was then told to come back in to complete a drive-through penalty for speeding in pit lane – losing him more than a minute to Lowndes in total. Despite this, he rejoined at the rear of the field charging through to salvage 10th spot.
There was even more controversy for the TeamVodafone driver when he made contact with Jack Daniel's Racing's Rick Kelly on the final lap. Kelly who had been inside the top ten ended the race 17th as a result and the collision saw Whincup beach the Holden Commodore in a sandtrap after the chequered flag.
The Championship continues at Phillip Island next month as the season's endurance events get underway, starting with the L&H 500 from the 16th to the 18th September.
Race 18 results:
|Pos||Entrant||Driver||Vehicle||Fastest Lap||Fastest Lap Time||Race Time||Laps|
|1||TeamVodafone||Craig Lowndes||Commodore VE2||44||01:10:5839||01:19:06:1660||65|
|2||Lucky 7 Racing||Tim Slade||Falcon FG||22||01:10:6151||01:19:07:2403||65|
|3||SP Tools Racing||Shane van Gisbergen||Falcon FG||23||01:11:1421||01:19:40:1213||65|
|4||Jim Beam Racing||James Moffat||Falcon FG||45||01:10:6098||01:19:41:6030||65|
|5||Stratco Racing||David Reynolds||Commodore VE2||24||01:10:8807||01:19:48:8834||65|
|6||Toll Holden Racing Team||Garth Tander||Commodore VE||22||01:10:8160||01:19:52:5633||65|
|7||Bundaberg Racing||Fabian Coulthard||Commodore VE2||43||01:10:7426||01:19:53:0609||65|
|8||Irwin Racing||Alex Davison||Falcon FG||46||01:11:1110||01:19:54:2194||65|
|9||Jim Beam Racing||Steven Johnson||Falcon FG||42||01:11:0838||01:19:57:5613||65|
|10||TeamVodafone||Jamie Whincup||Commodore VE2||25||01:10:1637||01:20:02:8436||65|
|11||Supercheap Auto Racing||Russell Ingall||Commodore VE2||23||01:10:6622||01:20:03:7112||65|
|12||Toll Holden Racing Team||James Courtney||Commodore VE2||49||01:10:7064||01:20:03:7926||65|
|13||Pepsi Max Crew||Greg Murphy||Commodore VE2||22||01:11:0076||01:20:05:9337||65|
|14||Fujitsu Racing GRM||Michael Caruso||Commodore VE2||20||01:10:6679||01:20:06:0224||65|
|15||Jack Daniel’s Racing||Todd Kelly||Commodore VE2||45||01:10:8502||01:20:06:2218||65|
|16||Fair Dinkum Sheds Racing||Karl Reindler||Commodore VE2||49||01:10:8188||01:20:10:0226||65|
|17||Jack Daniel’s Racing||Rick Kelly||Commodore VE2||20||01:10:7673||01:20:13:4547||65|
|18||Fujitsu Racing GRM||Lee Holdsworth||Commodore VE2||46||01:11:0051||01:20:14:8292||65|
|19||Orrcon Steel FPR Falcon||Mark Winterbottom||Falcon FG||47||01:11:0793||01:20:18:3100||65|
|20||Wilson Security Racing||Tony D’Alberto||Falcon FG||46||01:10:6689||01:20:18:9727||65|
|21||Trading Post FPR Falcon||Will Davison||Falcon FG||46||01:10:9228||01:19:11:4484||64|
|22||Mother Energy Racing Team||Jonathon Webb||Falcon FG||46||01:11:2837||01:19:17:4881||64|
|23||Gulf Western Oil Racing||Warren Luff||Commodore VE2||46||01:11:2806||01:19:32:3251||64|
|24||The Bottle-O Racing Team||Paul Dumbrell||Falcon FG||44||01:11:0836||01:19:41:0795||64|
|25||Triple F Racing||Dean Fiore||Falcon FG||46||01:11:1577||01:19:51:6940||64|
|26||Jana Living Racing||Jason Bargwanna||Commodore VE2||51||01:11:5139||01:20:12:8733||64|
|27||VIP Petfoods||Steve Owen||Commodore VE2||2||01:11:2695||01:19:39:4401||63|
|28||Team Boc||Jason Bright||Commodore VE2||26||01:10:9575||01:19:19:7856||53|