Great team work from Triple Eight in the second round of pit stops saw both of their cars jump ahead of the Ford Performance Racing trio, and saw Jamie Whincup lead a Triple Eight 1-2 ahead of Craig Lowndes to extend his lead in the drivers’ standings.
Triple Eight started on the back foot for race two of the weekend, with Ford Performance Racing locking out the first three spots on the grid in qualifying. Steve Owen’s Dick Johnson Racing Ford Falcon qualified in an impressive fourth, which meant the top Holden was that of Craig Lowndes’ Triple Eight car in fifth position.
At the start, Jonathon Webb in the Tekno Autosports Holden and James Courtney in the Holden Racing Team Commodore were the only two drivers in the 28 car field to begin the race on the soft tyres, and both carved their way up to be in the first two positions in the first ten laps of the race, but slid back down the order later in the race to finish eighth and 15th respectively.
Craig Lowndes had moved ahead of Will Davison’s FPR Falcon at the start, but in the first round of pit stops it was the FPR team which got Davison out ahead of Lowndes, which put the three FPR cars back into the top three positions with Lowndes now behind in fourth and team-mate Whincup behind in fifth.
On lap 20, Fabian Coulthard in the Brad Jones Racing Commodore and Rick Kelly in the Kelly Racing Holden had a coming together, with Kelly accusing Coulthard of having squeezed him into the wall. Kelly pitted for a new tyre after developing a puncture, whilst Coulthard had to head into the garage a few laps later with more severe damage to the left-rear of the car.
Whilst Lowndes was battling with Davison for third position on lap 35, the 38-year-old bounced over a kerb and knocked the pit-lane speed limiter on, which allowed Whincup past him into fourth spot.
The race was effectively decided at the final round of pit stops, with first the second placed car of Mark Winterbottom pitting along with fifth placed Lowndes on lap 42, with Lowndes rejoining ahead of Winterbottom’s Ford by a nose.
The following lap the other top three cars pitted, with Whincup now having moved ahead of Will Davison for second position on the road. Another great stop by Triple Eight saw Whincup get out ahead of both the FPR cars, whilst Reynolds slipped behind Davison. As they rejoined the track, Whincup popped out ahead of Lowndes whilst the three FPR cars slotted in behind the two Triple Eight Holdens, with Davison leading Winterbottom and Reynolds.
It wasn’t all over as Whincup had to defend against Lowndes throughout the remainder of the race, with Lowndes twice able to get ahead at Turn 2 but with Whincup able to switch back and grab the inside line for Turn 3 and regain the lead.
A late race safety car after Fabian Coulthard, having rejoined the race after repairs from his earlier incident, stopped on track which bunched the field up. This left the FPR trio vulnerable to attack from HRT’s Garth Tander, who had fresher tyres after having pitted later in the race.
A mistake by Reynolds at Turn 5 after the restart allowed Tander up to fifth, and the 2007 champion was able to pass Winterbottom for fourth with just four laps to go.
Whincup held off Lowndes’ charge to take his fifth win of the season and to wrap up a perfect weekend at Townsville, and extends his championship lead over Mark Winterbottom to 100 points, with Whincup now on 1794 points.
Whincup will be investigated however for spinning the wheels before his car was dropped at his first pit stop, for which the 29-year-old may incur anything from a reprimand to a points penalty.
Will Davison is now 140 points behind Whincup in the standings on 1654 with Lowndes closing, now on 1496.
The next round of the championship is in Ipswich at the Queensland Raceway on 4th-5th August.