COURTNEY WINS AT SANDOWN AND INCREASES CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD
Jim Beam Racing Ford Falcon driver James Courtney will take a 53-point lead into the final round of the V8 Supercar Championship in Sydney next month after a thrilling win at Sandown in Melbourne today.
Courtney won the second race of the 13th and penultimate championship round by 1.554-seconds ahead of Mark Winterbottom (Ford Performance Racing) and main title rival Jamie Whincup (Team Vodafone).
The results left Courtney leading the championship with 2,932 points, followed by Whincup on 2,879, and Winterbottom 2,729.
Courtney went into today's race leading the series by 32 points. The JELD-WEN sponsored driver scored 150 points for his victory at Sandown, while Whincup earned 129 for third.
Today's race was shortened from the scheduled 65 laps to 60 laps following a mid-race crash involving Will Davison (Holden Racing Team) and Michael Caruso (Fujitsu Commodore). The race was stopped after the incident and then re-started for the final 26 laps.
Courtney circulated in the top 10 in the opening half of the race, and overtook Whincup during their second pit stops under Safety Car conditions. After the restart Courtney utilised his soft-compound Dunlop 'sprint' tyres and took the lead when he passed Winterbottom on lap 46. The top three positions remained unchanged to the finish.
Courtney's win was his fifth in this year's championship and he maintained his 100-percent finishing record in the 24 races held to date. The final round at Homebush in Sydney will be held from December 3-5.
Qualifying - Race 2: 5th (best lap 1-min 10.659-secs)
Race 2 Result (60 laps): 1st (best lap 1-min 10.694-secs)
Fastest lap of race: Garth Tander (Holden Racing Team) 1-min 10.350-secs
COURTNEY QUOTES: "It's been a crazy few weeks at Jim Beam Racing with all the speculation about the team's ownership. So it's an amazing feeling to repay the boys in my team with this win. It's been a hard time for all of us, and I've copped a bit, but today we've come together and proved we can overcome these things. My crew did a great job with the pit stops and the car was better today after we made some changes. I was held up for a while by Rick Kelly, but once I passed him I had the pace to catch the others in front. This is the best possible result for us right now because we've stamped our authority going to Homebush (Sydney). I'm sure Team Vodafone will throw everything at us in Sydney, but I won there last year so we expect to be competitive."
CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS (after round 13): James Courtney (Ford) 2,932; Jamie Whincup (Holden) 2,879; Mark Winterbottom (Ford) 2,729; Craig Lowndes (Holden) 2,567; Garth Tander (Holden) 2,382