Jamie Whincup has recovered from a drive-through penalty to finish third to team-mate Craig Lowndes in the feature race of the Winton 300 round, a result that proved enough to provisionally award him a fourth V8 Supercars Championship title.
The TeamVodafone driver led the 200-kilometre race from pole position, but his joy would prove short-lived after second-placed Will Davison snuck ahead at Turn 10 on the opening lap.
That left Whincup in second place, one spot ahead of his sole championship rival, Mark Winterbottom, who needed to finish well ahead of him if he was to have hope of taking the championship fight to the final round of the season at Sydney Olympic Park.
The top-three ran in good order until the first round of pit stops, but it all threatened to come undone for Whincup after his rear wheels were spotted spinning as he prepared to be lowered from his jacks.
Putting the car in gear too early during a pit stop is a big ‘no-no’ in the V8 Supercars rulebook, and accordingly, Whincup was hauled in for a drive-through penalty that dropped him to 22nd position.
Incredibly, he clawed his way back into contention and on the podium, despite the absence of any further safety car periods over the remainder of the race.
Perhaps his pace inspired team-mate Craig Lowndes – who was promoted to third place after Whincup’s penalty – for the series veteran staged his own late-race charge to get by Winterbottom and Whincup to claim victory for the sixth time this season.
Former leader Davison faded badly as the race wore on, struggling with a lack of grip to finish outside the top-ten.
Winterbottom soldiered on to claim yet another podium finish, but with Whincup in third place, his hopes of keeping his championship challenge alive would rest on his rival failing to score a single point in the finale and copping a significant penalty points hit.
2012 V8 Supercars Winton 300 – Race 2 Final Classification (67 laps):
|Driver||Entry / Team||Result|
|1.||Craig Lowndes||Team Vodafone / Triple 8 Racing||1:38:39.486|
|2.||Mark Winterbottom||Orrcon Steel / Ford Performance Racing||+ 5.812|
|3.||Jamie Whincup||Team Vodafone / Triple 8 Racing||+ 8.652|
|4.||Shane van Gisbergen||SP Tools / Stone Brothers Racing||+ 15.836|
|5.||Tim Slade||Lucky 7 Racing / Stone Brothers Racing||+ 17.050|
|6.||Jason Bright||Team BOC / Brad Jones Racing||+ 17.417|
|7.||Jonathon Webb||Tekno Autosports||+ 19.916|
|8.||David Reynolds||The Bottle-O Racing Team / Rod Nash||+ 22.531|
|9.||Russell Ingall||Supercheap Auto / Walkinshaw Racing||+ 25.010|
|10.||Lee Holdsworth||Irwin Racing / Stone Brothers Racing||+ 28.271|
|11.||Will Davison||Trading Post / Ford Performance Racing||+ 30.027|
|12.||Fabian Coulthard||Lockwood Racing / Brad Jones Racing||+ 32.940|
|13.||Garth Tander||TOLL / Holden Racing Team||+ 34.119|
|14.||Dean Fiore||Jim Beam Racing / Dick Johnson Racing||+ 44.690|
|15.||Karl Reindler||Fair Dinkum Sheds / Kelly Racing||+ 45.177|
|16.||Michael Caruso||Fujitsu Racing / Garry Rogers Motorsport||+ 45.471|
|17.||James Moffat||Team Norton / Dick Johnson Racing||+ 45.595|
|18.||James Courtney||TOLL / Holden Racing Team||+ 51.792|
|19.||Rick Kelly||Jack Daniel’s / Kelly Racing||+59.770|
|20.||Steve Owen||VIP Petfoods / Dick Johnson Racing||+ 1:00.370|
|21.||Alexandre Prémat||Fujitsu Racing / Garry Rogers Motorsport||+ 1:08.375|
|22.||Tim Blanchard||Jack Daniel’s / Kelly Racing||+ 1:17.857|
|23.||Tony D’Alberto||HIFLEX Racing / Tony D’Alberto Racing||+ 1:23.520|
|24.||Taz Douglas||Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport||+ 1:24.085|
|25.||David Wall||Wilson Security / Brad Jones Racing||+ 1:24.133|
|26.||Steven Johnson||Jim Beam Racing / Dick Johnson Racing||1 lap behind|
|27.||Michael Patrizi||Tekno Autosports||1 lap behind|
|28.||Greg Murphy||Pepsi Max Crew / Kelly Racing||1 lap behind|