THE SYDNEY CONNECTION STEAL THE SHOW AT TELSTRA 500
James Courtney, Michael Caruso and Mark Winterbottom all survived the carnage of the final 250 kilometre race at the Telstra 500 at Sydney Olympic Park yesterday and in doing so ensured an all Sydney podium.
Courtney in the Jim Beam Racing Ford grabbed his second win of the season since joining the outfit while Winterbottom managed his second podium of the weekend in his Ford Performance Falcon and Garry Rogers Motorsport Michael Caruso lived up to the promise of "doing it for Sydney" considering this is the only race on the V8 Supercar calendar now that Oran Park has closed and Eastern Creek failed to attract race fans.
Talking about fans, close to 185,000 witnessed some spectacular racing and even more spectacular crashes around the tight concrete and steel lined streets of the former home to the 2000 Olympics and judging by their reaction to the event it is certain to outlast the five year contract and become a national event just like the F1 Grand Prix in Melbourne and the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide.
To say that V8 Supercar chairman Mr Tony Cochrane was impressed with the results is an understatement. He was excited. Despite acknowledging there needs to be some improvements, such as more large screens and bridges crossing over the track his vision is for car shows and other attractions in the future after the inaugural year saw headline acts with Cold Chisel and other Australian bands performing in the stadium where Cathy Freeman won her gold medal all those years ago.
Although Jamie Whincup secured his back to back title on Saturday he could only manage 14th with team mate Craig Lowndes failing to finish. Team Vodafone boss Roland Dane was apparently livid at the fact that the results cost them the Team Championship which went to Holden Racing Team after Will Davison finished 8th. Next year sees them switch from Ford to Holden and the rivalry will be even greater with them threatening the factory backed team.
Despite having led the championship from start to finish in 2009 Whincup has his sights set on winning in 2010 in a Holden and if he can he will be the only driver in the history to win driving both brands.
After capturing pole position Lee Holdsworth in the Valvoline Holden crashed out early in the race along with brothers Rick and Todd Kelly in the black Jack Daniel Holdens. Jason Bargwanna put his Sprint Gas Racing Commodore into the tyre barrier at Turn 8 and whilst attempting to back out was hit by Dean Fiore in the Bing Lee/Panasonic Holden. Such was the carnage that only 16 of the 29 field finished the race. After finishing on the podium on Saturday Jason Bright was looking forward to another trophy for the cabinet when penalised for a pit infringement costing him any repeat performance.