2011 V8 Supercars Champion Jamie Whincup Photo credit: V8 Supercars Media

2011 V8 Supercars Champion Jamie Whincup Photo credit: V8 Supercars Media

Jamie Whincup survived carnage and chaos to seal his third V8 Supercar Championship at the Sydney Telstra 500 in an incident-packed 250km second race won by Orrcon Steel FPR's Mark Winterbottom.

In a gripping final race of the year on the Sydney Olympic Park street circuit, TeamVodafone team-mate and Championship rival Craig Lowndes stormed through to second place, but it wasn’t enough to bridge the gap as Whincup finished in eighth to take the title by just 35 points.

Whincup joins the late Peter Brock and Craig Lowndes as a three-time champion on the honour roll and becomes only the second driver in history to win a championship with both Ford and Holden.

“It’s been such a long year and a long week to be honest. (This) probably won’t sink in until the week later,” said Whincup.

“It was great to see my dad there at end of the race, and obviously the whole team- we’ve gone through thick and thin.”

“I’ve never driven so soft before just trying to get clean air and stay out of the carnage! To finally get there is an unbelievable feeling.”

With rain falling right up to within an hour of the race start, all the cars bar the fifth-placed The Bottle-O Racing Team FPR Falcon of Paul Dumbrell, lined up on the grid with wet tyres. However, with more than half the field diving in for slicks at the end of the formation lap, just a handful of cars, including front row starters, double pole-sitter Trading Post FPR's Will Davison and Whincup, to take the start proper.

Dumbrell showed that slicks were the right move as conditions improved, and before a dozen laps had been run, the leaders all pitted. Having to stack behind his team-mate, Whincup lost time allowing Wilson Security Racing/Team McGrath's Tony D'Alberto, Pepsi Max Crew's Greg Murphy and Winterbottom to take up the top positions – with Winterbottom taking the lead on lap 16 before a safety car deployment on lap 25 for the stricken Gulf Western Oil Racing Commodore of Warren Luff saw the entire field take to the pitlane.

The leading contenders elected not to pit under a second Safety Car, after D'Alberto's suspension failure on lap 33 led to heavy impact with the barriers. But 14 laps later, a clash between Jack Daniels Racing's Todd Kelly and Toll Holden Racing Team's Garth Tander brought out the third safety car as the marshals collected the debris from Tander's exhaust. With everyone pitting again, Lowndes emerged in eighth, but Whincup, forced to queue behind his team-mate dropped down to 18th.

The pair again made their way through the pack after the restart, with Whincup passing Jason Bright, for 12th on lap 60, after the Team BOC driver had been spun by Mother Energy Racing Team's Jonathon Webb. This was the key position from which Whincup needed to secure the Championship, no matter where Lowndes finished.

With just four laps remaining, Will Davison again failed to finish when he buried his car in the turn 8 tyre wall as he misjudged a passing move on SP Tools Racing's Shane van Gisbergen. On the same lap, Dumbrell in his final V8 Supercars race, spun while running second and was t-boned by Team Fujitsu's Lee Holdsworth – eliminating both from the race and from podium contention. Lowndes narrowly avoided the crash but in doing so, moved up into second place. The incident prompted a third safety car appearance and set up a final dramatic two-lap sprint to the finish. Winterbottom managed to hold off Lowndes by just 0.7s to take the 28th and final race of the season. The win also meant Winterbottom took third in the final standings, ahead of van Gisbergen and Tander, as well as the honour of being the highest-finishing Ford driver this year.

Mark Winterbottom Race 2 Sydney Telstra 500 Photo credit: V8 Supercars Media

Mark Winterbottom Race 2 Sydney Telstra 500 Photo credit: V8 Supercars Media

“It’s a great effort by the boys, we’ve really turned this season around,” said Winterbottom.

“This is a big event for us, Sydney is my childhood home and I’m absolutely rapt.”

Lowndes, who claimed a 1-2 finish for TeamVodafone in this year’s Driver’s Championship, said: “It was one of those moments today, it was all about not holding back and we had hell of race.”

“Credit has to go to Jamie, he’s done everything right, and to all our guys – what a year!” he added.

Van Gisbergen rounded out the podium finishing third for the second time in two days. Mother Energy Racing’s Jonathon Webb was fourth, with Supercheap Auto Racing's Russell Ingall ending his time with Paul Morris Motorsport with a top five finish. Fujitsu Racing's Michael Caruso, Toll Holden Racing Team's James Courtney and Whincup finished sixth, seventh and eighth respectively. Despite being crashed into twice, Team BOC's Jason Bright finished ninth with Lucky 7 Racing's Tim Slade completing the top ten.

The 2012 International V8 Supercars Championship will kick off on Australian soil with the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide on March 1-4.

Race 28 results:

Pos Entrant Driver Vehicle Fastest Lap Fastest Lap Time Race Time Laps Points
1 Orrcon Steel FPR Falcon Mark Winterbottom Falcon FG 67 01:28:6064 02:05:05:2756 74 150
2 TeamVodafone Craig Lowndes Commodore VE2 63 01:28:3839 02:05:06:0018 74 138
3 SP Tools Racing Shane van Gisbergen Falcon FG 64 01:28:9861 02:05:08:9735 74 129
4 Mother Energy Racing Team Jonathon Webb Falcon FG 62 01:28:7613 02:05:09:7854 74 120
5 Supercheap Auto Racing Russell Ingall Commodore VE2 58 01:29:2505 02:05:10:4633 74 111
6 Fujitsu Racing GRM Michael Caruso Commodore VE2 23 01:29:0260 02:05:11:0128 74 102
7 Toll Holden Racing Team James Courtney Commodore VE2 62 01:28:8656 02:05:11:5128 74 96
8 TeamVodafone Jamie Whincup Commodore VE2 22 01:28:8502 02:05:12:5991 74 90
9 Team BOC Jason Bright Commodore VE2 44 01:28:9814 02:05:13:4312 74 84
10 Lucky 7 Racing Tim Slade Falcon FG 55 01:29:2027 02:05:13:9571 74 78
11 Pepsi Max Crew Greg Murphy Commodore VE2 55 01:29:2169 02:05:14:3854 74 72
12 Jack Daniel’s Racing Rick Kelly Commodore VE2 22 01:29:0203 02:05:14:7746 74 69
13 Stratco Racing David Reynolds Commodore VE2 23 01:29:4290 02:05:16:1879 74 66
14 Jim Beam Racing Steven Johnson Falcon FG 22 01:29:5332 02:05:16:5636 74 63
15 VIP Petfoods Steve Owen Commodore VE2 55 01:29:3163 02:05:19:9768 74 60
16 Jack Daniel’s Racing Todd Kelly Commodore VE2 40 01:29:4295 02:05:38:2490 66 57
17 Jana Living Racing Jason Bargwanna Commodore VE2 50 01:30:6688 02:05:24:7348 64 54
18 Fair Dinkum Sheds Racing Karl Reindler Commodore VE2 56 01:30:5990 02:05:25:4068 64 51
19 Toll Holden Racing Team Garth Tander Commodore VE2 41 01:29:4246 02:05:22:0045 63 48
DNF Trading Post FPR Falcon Will Davison Falcon FG 57 01:28:6477 01:55:54:6091 69 0
DNF The Bottle-O Racing Team Paul Dumbrell Falcon FG 67 01:28:6459 01:56:43:5475 69 0
DNF Fujitsu Racing GRM Lee Holdsworth Commodore VE2 66 01:28:6699 01:54:19:4389 68 0
DNF Triple F Racing Dean Fiore Falcon FG 32 01:29:5310 01:55:55:6105 55 0
DNF Wilson Security Team McGrath Tony D’Alberto Falcon FG 20 01:29:5341 52:04:6914 31 0
DNF Irwin Racing Alex Davison Falcon FG 21 01:29:5209 50:26:5164 30 0
DNF Gulf Western Oil Racing Warren Luff Commodore VE2 17 01:30:5752 37:24:2510 23 0
DNF Bundaberg Racing Fabian Coulthard Commodore VE2 00:00:0000 03:12:9611 1 0
DNF Jim Beam Racing James Moffat Falcon FG 00:00:0000 04:05:2482 1 0