The day started with an all-hands-on-deck engine change for Craig Lowndes, but it ended with a dominant performance that ended in Victory Lane at Queensland Raceway.
Lowndes put his new powerplant on display during qualifying, storming to the pole, then went out in his #888 Holden Commodore and led wire to wire to claim his fourth consecutive win at the Queensland layout.
"Credit to the guys because to do an engine change this morning, and to get us out on pole position and then to back it up with a victory ... all in all it's been a terrific day,” Lowndes said. “I suppose we've been a bit relaxed in past years because it's our home test track but this year and last we are really attacking the track and trying to find that last little bit of time.”
Lowndes started alongside Team Vodafone stablemate and V8 Supercars points leader Jamie Whincup but slipped away easily at the drop of the flag as Whincup suffered a clutch problem that dropped him back in the pack. Mark Winterbottom took the second spot as Whincup initially faded, putting Winterbottom in a spot that he would hold for most of the day.
“I was probably a little cautious early and could’ve pushed harder but I was unsure how strong we’d be at the end,” Winterbottom said. “The car was better than the result we had so that gives me good hope for tomorrow now we know how it will handle late in the stints. Second is a great result for us at this track.”
Whincup benefited from a Lap 2 caution flag brought out by David Reynolds and Tony D’Alberto to pit for softer tires, which allowed him to make a march through the field. The series leader passed Tim Slade for eighth on Lap 9, and by the time the final pit stops has cycled through at Lap 26, Whincup had made his way back to third behind Lowndes and Winterbottom.
“The pit call on lap two to bring me in for softs was a great idea from the team, but the pace we had today and the speed I was driving was only good enough for third.” said Whincup. "It was a pretty simple race from where I stood, I just got a shocker start so we'll have to have a look at that. There were some clutch issues but we'll have a look at that for tomorrow."
Lockwood Racing's Fabian Coulthard equaled his season best race finish in fourth and Russell Ingall claimed his season-best finish in fifth. Will Davison, Shane van Gisbergen, Michael Caruso, Slade and Steve Johnson rounded out the top ten. Whincup still leads the series after his third-place run and Lowndes' win has closed the margin to 277 points.