Eastern Creek: Pre-race items of interest

Eight things about V8 Supercars at Eastern Creek STARTS 1. It is the 15th time a Championship round has been held at Eastern Creek, the first being in 1992. Three of this year's field has taken part in all of the previous 14 rounds - Mark...

Eight things about V8 Supercars at Eastern Creek

STARTS

1. It is the 15th time a Championship round has been held at Eastern Creek, the first being in 1992. Three of this year's field has taken part in all of the previous 14 rounds - Mark Skaife, John Bowe and Glenn Seton. At the other end of the scale there are three first timers - Steve Owen, Andrew Jones and Matthew White. Seven drivers have won a round at Eastern Creek and six of them are in this year's race. Mark Skaife has been the most successful driver with five wins (including four in a row between 1999 and 2002) while Marcos Ambrose has won here three times, Glenn Seton twice and John Bowe, Craig Lowndes and Rick Kelly have had one win apiece. The only man to have won a round here who isn't racing this weekend is Peter Brock who won back in 1994. That was a pretty significant victory as it was the very first win for the Holden Racing Team in the Championship.

2. With round four of the V8 Supercar Championship Series at Eastern Creek, Stone Brothers Racing's Russell Ingall finds himself just 11 points behind team-mate Marcos Ambrose. A good result may mean Ingall leaves Sydney leading series for the first time since 1998. Ingall took the lead in 1998 after the fifth round at Winton and held it until Craig Lowndes overtook him at Barbagallo in the round seven. Lowndes held on to take the title and Ingall had to settle for the runners up spot. That was the first of four occasions that Ingall has finished second in the Championship (the others being 1999, 2001, 2004) and gives him the unenviable record of being runner up the most times without winning the title. The man who has been second most times is Peter Brock with five but, of course, he has won the Championship three times. The only other drivers to have been runner up more than twice are John Bowe (4 times) and Glenn Seton (3 times). But they have also won the Championship.

3. With their two drivers sitting 1-2 in the Drivers Championship, Stone Brothers Racing head to Eastern Creek with a pretty healthy lead in the Teams Championship. Between them Marcos Ambrose and Russell Ingall have amassed 1027 points with the next best being Supercheap Auto Racing on 732. HRT are third with 714 while in fourth place, and the second best Ford team, is Dick Johnson Racing on 683. The top ten teams are split evenly between the two makes with 888 fifth, Kelly Racing sixth, Castrol Perkins seventh, BOC/BJR eighth, Valvoline ninth and FPR tenth.

4. With Marcos Ambrose and Russell Ingall 1-2 in the Championship table it means that, for the second round in a row the team mates are leading the series. If they maintain their positions it will be the first time since 2002 that it has happened. Then Mark Skaife and his HRT team mate Jason Bright held the top two places between round seven at Oran Park and round eleven at Surfers Paradise. It has also been 12 years since two Ford team mates have topped the table. It was in 1993 that the Peter Jackson Ford team of Glenn Seton and Alan Jones occupied positions 1 and 2 in the series from the fourth round at Lakeside until the end when Seton took the Championship from Jones.

5. Craig Lowndes took Pole again in the last round at Barbagallo and apart from being his 16th Championship Pole it was the first time that he has scored successive Poles. If he can make it a hat trick at Eastern Creek he will become only the sixth Ford driver to take pole on three or more occasions in a row. Allan Moffat did it five times, with a best of nine in a row, while Dick Johnson and John Bowe have done it three times each. Ian Geoghegan had a hat trick in 1968/1969 while Marcos Ambrose has managed three in a row twice, in 2002 and 2003. Incidentally in both of the last two races Marcos Ambrose has made it an all Ford front row and so if he can join Lowndes on the front row again it will be the first time since 1995 that two Ford drivers have shared the front row for three rounds in succession. Then it was John Bowe and Glenn Seton who did it at Lakeside, Winton and Eastern Creek.

6. There must be something in the air in Western Australia that agrees with Stephen Richards as last year he scored his first Championship Pole position at Barbagallo and this year he took victory there for the first time since Calder in 2000. It also brought to an end his run of 57 Championship rounds without a victory and one man who will be hoping to go one better than that is Garth Tander. This race will be his 56th Championship start since his last win at Bathurst back in 2000 when he shared a Garry Rogers Commodore with Jason Bargwanna. Garth shouldn't worry too much, though, if he doesn't make it this weekend as the record for the longest gap between wins belongs to Tony Longhurst who scored his fourth Championship success at Lakeside in 1992 and his fifth at Bathurst (sharing a Commodore with Mark Skaife) in 2001, some 99 races later.

7. Picking a Pole position man can be a bit of a lottery but judging by the first three rounds this year it might be worth risking a few pennies on whoever finishes sixth in qualifying. In Adelaide Rick Kelly jumped from sixth to first while at Pukekohe and Barbagallo Craig Lowndes was sixth before the Shootout. Since the Shootout became a part of the Championship it has been used 61 times and most times the men who finish on top of the list in qualifying usually go on to do well in the shoot out. On 17 occasions the fastest qualifier has taken pole while the second fastest man has taken it 11 times and the third fastest man 10 times. Prior to this year sixth qualifying position has only provided the pole man once and that was last year, at Eastern Creek, when Marcos Ambrose jumped from sixth to first.

8. If either Todd Kelly or Mark Skaife don't manage to win this round at Eastern Creek it will be the first time since 1995 that HRT haven't won at least one of the first four rounds in a season. It also represents the 21st Championship round since Mark Skaife last won. In contrast Skaife had won eight of the 21 rounds prior to his last win in the Sandown 500 in 2003. Last year the fourth round of the Championship was held at Darwin's Hidden Valley circuit and it was then that Kelly took the last victory for HRT.

-avesco-

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About this article
Series Supercars
Drivers Alan Jones , Garth Tander , Marcos Ambrose , Jason Bright , Russell Ingall , Andrew Jones , Rick Kelly , Mark Skaife , Craig Lowndes , Jason Bargwanna , John Bowe , Glenn Seton , Todd Kelly , Garry Rogers , Steve Owen , Matthew White , Peter Brock , Allan Moffat , Dick Johnson
Teams Holden Racing Team