James Courtney held off Jamie Whincup to win what was a thrilling second race at the Clipsal 500.
Pole-sitter Chaz Mostert controlled the early running of the race, leading right up until after the round of compulsory stops.
But on Lap 21 Courtney turned the race on its head. The Holden Racing Team driver barged his way past Mostert at Turn 9 to take the lead, with Race 1 winner Whincup following the red Commodore through into second place.
What followed was a thrilling battle for the lead, Whincup looking faster in the closing stages, but Courtney executing flawless car positioning to keep the #88 behind.
The battle went down to the wire, Courtney just holding on to take an impressive win.
“That was an amazing battle,” said Courtney.
“It shows why Jamie is such a champion. It’s an awesome feeling; we’ve been in a huge hole, and to have a couple of good strong qualifying [sessions], good strong races, I can’t thank everyone enough.”
“JC deserved that,” added Whincup. “I made him work for that. That was madness, that was good quality motorsport.”
Mostert finished third, after holding off a charge from Scott McLaughlin late in the race, while Shane van Gisbergen worked hard to bag fifth.
The Kiwi had been running with the front group in the first stint, before a long stop dropped towards the back of the Top 10. But he made good ground in the second stint, charging his way past Craig Lowndes and Michael Caruso on his way to a Top 5.
Caruso capped off a decent day for Nissan with sixth, ahead of Scott Pye, Jason Bright, Will Davison, and Lowndes, who all staged a decent battle for the back end of the Top 10 in the closing laps.
Hits and Misses
Chris Pither became the first of the main series drivers to be bitten by the notorious Turn 8 this weekend, the Kiwi hitting the wall hard on just the second lap of the race. It started with a scrape on the outside of the corner, before the Super Black Falcon lurched into the wall on the other side.
Either emerged unhurt, but his race was done on the spot.
Nick Percat, meanwhile, didn’t even make the start of the race. The LD Motorsport driver had barely left pit-lane for the formation lap when the bonnet on his Commodore flew open. Several metres later, the car shut down. As a result, Percat didn’t even make the grid.
“The bonnet was a minor part of the issue,” he said. “I got to Turn 3 and it all went quiet. I looked down and the dash had gone out, everything had gone out. I tried to restart, I tried to power cycle, but I think the battery has just gone flat.”