LOWNDES REDUCES GAP TO KELLY
In what is being touted as one of the greatest V8 Supercar Season Championship endings, Triple Eight Race Engineering's Craig Lowndes reduced Rick Kelly's lead to just 3 points with two 150km races still to be contested tomorrow.
Ensuring a battle to the finish, Lowndes qualified in fifth position, four spots ahead of Kelly with teammate Jamie Whincup missing the top ten shootout and starting from 12th on the grid, a consequence of failing to stop for a weighbridge check during the 20minute qualifying session.
Lowndes endured two heart stopping racing moments in the 23 lap race when Jason Richards and Jamie Whincup came together on the opening lap and the second when Jason Bright spun coming into the hairpin, narrowly missing the Triple Eight driver.
Both Triple Eight Race Engineering Falcons showed great race pace with Lowndes finishing fourth and Jamie finishing 26th, resulting from the first lap altercation and subsequent penalty.
"We had a good run with the car, as it's very consistent and has good pace," Lowndes said.
"Ideally, we need to find a little bit more turn for tomorrow, as it has slightly too much understeer."
"I had a great battle with Skaife, which provided the Team with some heart stopping moments particularly through the Hayshed which is the fastest corner on the track, and where I tested Triple Eight's cross country capabilities!
"We achieved our objective today of reducing the gap to Rick and I look forward to tomorrows two races which are both nine laps longer," Lowndes commented.
After a sensational start that catapulted Whincup from 12th to 6th the young driver was disappointed in losing such an important position.
"I was really happy to get a jump at the start and catch up to Craig, it being an opportunity to gain points in the Team's Championship," Whincup said.
"However putting a tyre over the tarmac's edge when exiting Turn One created a chain reaction and I collected Jason Richards as a result.
"It's now a chase through the field for the rest of the weekend, which was obviously not part of my plans for this weekend," Whincup concluded.
The final two races of the 2006 season will be held on tomorrow (2 x 140km), and every on-track placing, pit-stop and passing opportunity will be instrumental in deciding this years' champion.