COURTNEY PRAISES JIM BEAM RACING CREW FOR HASTY REPAIRS AFTER CRASH
James Courtney praised his Jim Beam Racing crew for hasty repairs to his damaged Ford Falcon today which enabled him to extend his lead in this year's V8 Supercar Championship to 113 points.
Courtney can claim the championship title provided he finishes no worse than 22nd in tomorrow's second race of the 14th and final round at Sydney Olympic Park at Homebush.
In today's opening race, Courtney and championship rivals Jamie Whincup (Team Vodafone) and Mark Winterbottom (Ford Performance Racing) all crashed on lap 60 on a wet track when their cars were fitted with racing 'slick' tyres.
All three cars were badly damaged, but Courtney's crew managed to repair his FG Falcon so that he could resume racing. He finished 15th, seven laps behind race winner Jonathon Webb (Mother Ford Falcon), and earned 60 championship points.
Whincup, who went into today's race 53 points behind Courtney, also returned to the track, but was not classified as a finisher and scored no points. Winterbottom also failed to add to his points tally and is now out of championship contention.
The race, originally scheduled for 74 laps, was shortened to 69 laps after a spate of crashes when rain began to fall on the 3.4km street circuit. Only 15 of the 29 starters were classified as finishing.
Courtney qualified sixth for today's race and held sixth position for the opening 10 laps. He made pit-stops for fuel and fresh tyres on laps 27 and 52. The 30-year-old led the race for a total of 21 laps in two stints, and was third behind Whincup and Winterbottom when the trio crashed.
Courtney has led the championship since May. He won the second race of the Sydney round in 2009.
COURTNEY QUOTES: "My team won those 60 points for me today. The right-front of my car was a mess after I hit the wall, and then (Craig) Lowndes ran into the back of me. When I got the car back to the pits my guys did an awesome job fixing it up and getting me back out on the track again. The crash happened when the rain started getting heavier and we started aquaplaning down the back straight. I don't know what happened to the other guys, but we were all passengers. In hindsight I probably should have stopped the lap before and put the 'wets' (tyres) on. But it was a tough call because when we came over the line to start that lap (lap 60) it wasn't as wet as when we arrived there. Until the crash it had been a good race. We ran a longer first stint than Jamie (Whincup) and Mark (Winterbottom), but once all the pit-stops were done we were back together and ready for a battle to the finish. Congratulations to 'Webby (Jonathon Webb) for his win. He's done a great job in his first season in V8 Supercars."