Shootout spot for Whincup results in 12th at Phillip Island opener
Dodo Racing's Jamie Whincup has finished 12th in the first race of the BigPond Grand Finale at Phillip Island.
Earlier in the day the Melbourne-based racer had secured a spot in the Top 10 Shootout, his second berth in the qualifying run-off of the season.
After qualifying ninth and using all of his new tyres to make the shootout, Whincup qualified 10th. A bad start bogged down the Dodo Commodore, though he stayed out on the circuit later in the race than his rivals to make his compulsory pit stop.
Some dramas, including drive-through penalties for Steven Richards and Jason Bright, helped elevate Whincup up the order, though he remained consistent throughout the race and that gives him a sixth row starting position for tomorrow's next race.
"With a taller diff ratio here and a grippy track I thought the best thing to do on the start was to give the car lots of revs on the line," explained Whincup.
"But all I did was sit there in smoke and watch a few of them drive past me!
"We changed the car a bit for the race and we had a clean and consistent day. We're in a reasonable position for tomorrow's races, which are a little longer.
"The overall balance of the car is the focus for tonight and whatever setup changes we decide to make."
Teammate Jason Richards qualified 13th though a slow pit stop due to a problem with a tyre 'rattle' gun dropped the #3 car back down the order to finish 17th.
"It cost us about four seconds in the pits," said Richards of the problem.
"I had a pretty good dice in the latter stages of the race with Mark Skaife and Jason Bargwanna, but right now we just don't have the perfect car.
"We've found some more speed in the slower corners but it's not as confident in the high speed stuff. That's what we'll work on tonight."
Richards has actually now moved to 17th in the championship, 60 points behind teammate Whincup, who in turn is now 14 points behind Glenn Seton.
Tomorrow's two races will be over 140 kilometres each of the 4.45-km circuit.