Lowndes turned "nobodies" into a Supercars powerhouse

Craig Lowndes played a pivotal role in turning Triple Eight from a team of "nobodies" into the Supercars powerhouse it is today, says team manager Mark Dutton.

Lowndes turned "nobodies" into a Supercars powerhouse
Craig Lowndes grabbed his third pole position for the season
Craig Lowndes continues to stretch his lead
Craig Lowndes stretches his lead temporarily
Lowndes in the lead
Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup
Mark Dutton, Red Bull Holden Racing Team Holden Commodore VF
Mark Dutton
Craig Lowndes, Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden
Craig Lowndes, Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden
Craig Lowndes, Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden
Craig Lowndes, Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden

While now well-established as an absolute powerhouse of the Australian series, having won eight team and eight driver titles since 2008, the team was far from a recognised force when Lowndes joined in 2005.

Lowndes made his Triple Eight switch just over a year after the British outfit had taken ownership of the unfancied Briggs Motorsport squad, team boss Roland Dane talking the series' biggest name into moving over from Ford Performance Racing.

The breakthrough signing came right as Triple Eight began a sudden surge to the top of the Supercars ranks, Lowndes winning the team's first race in 2005 and teaming up with Jamie Whincup to win its first Bathurst crown a year later.

From that point on the wins and titles flowed freely, Whincup now a seven-time series champion while Lowndes has six Bathurst 1000 wins to his name.

And according to team manager Mark Dutton, who has been there since the beginning, the success story may not exist had Lowndes not joined in the first place.

"When we were the little engine that could, when we were a small team trying to be legit, trying to get some trophies... even when we went from Briggs to Triple Eight we were still nobodies," said Dutton.

"When Craig joined the team, it was a massive leap of faith from him. Good on Roland for being able to [make him] see what Triple Eight would be able to do.

"It gave us a level of respect straight away in the paddock that someone of his stature would join the team. It was a pretty proud moment when you're a small team that hadn't have much success, to then get that person. Everyone stepped up at the time, and wanted to work harder and harder to show that he made the right call.

"It definitely was a turning point for Triple Eight. I don't think we'd be where we are without him being part of the team at all."

Given that remarkable history between team and driver, Dutton said it is sad to see Lowndes stepping down as a full-timer.

"The feeling is... I knew the announcement was coming, but jeez it was sad," he said.

"It was pretty emotional when both Roland and Lowndsey were announcing it privately to the team before they went and did it publicly.

"Yeah, it's sad. It's the right time, and everything makes sense, and there's no doubt that it's the right decision for Craig, for the team, for everyone together. It's been done really well, but you can't help but shed a tear."

Dutton added that the one blot in the Lowndes/Triple Eight copybook is that they – to this point at least – have never won a title together, despite Lowndes being a constant figure in the top four of the standings during his time with the team.

He also batted off light-hearted suggestions that he himself was partly to blame for that, having played such a crucial role in the engineering group that helped Whincup's dominant run of championships.

"I was only a part of the whole collective," he said. "Believe it or not, we've always worked together. We've always been tight knit. I've never kept anything away from, whether it was [former Lowndes engineer Jeromy Moore] and CL... people do, don't worry, in other teams. But I don't think I can take any of that credit, I was just a cog in the machine.

"It would be a dream come true to give him a championship in his final full-time drive. That's the only thing we haven't been able to give him in his time with Triple Eight, and it tears me apart that we haven't been able to give him that.

"We'll be working hard all year. There are numbers than make it very difficult, but we don't worry about that. We'll go hard and it will sort itself out."

shares
comments
Injured British F3 driver to make comeback in Supercars

Previous article

Injured British F3 driver to make comeback in Supercars

Next article

No driver attitude issues at Tickford

No driver attitude issues at Tickford
Load comments
How taming his temper shaped Supercars' slow-burn star Prime

How taming his temper shaped Supercars' slow-burn star

His decision to leave Brad Jones Racing was the biggest shock of the Australian Supercars silly season so far. But for Nick Percat, it comes as the culmination of a personal journey that has made him into one of the most rounded drivers in the series, now in search of a seat that can make him a champion

Supercars
Sep 17, 2021
Why replacing Supercars' GOAT with a teenager is worth the risk for T8 Prime

Why replacing Supercars' GOAT with a teenager is worth the risk for T8

On the face of it, picking an 18-year-old rookie to replace arguably the greatest Supercars driver of all time is a risky move. But as Jamie Whincup takes up a team principal role and hands his car to Broc Feeney, it's one that he is confident will be rewarded in the fullness of time - time which wasn't afforded to Whincup in his early days

Supercars
Sep 1, 2021
How Randle went from fighting cancer to battling for Supercars contention Prime

How Randle went from fighting cancer to battling for Supercars contention

After his fledgling career was paused by a battle with testicular cancer, Thomas Randle then had to wrestle with finding a drive in Supercars after he got the all-clear. It's been a long road for the Melbourne native but, after two lengthy battles, he's finally got a full-time drive to look forward to

Supercars
Jun 29, 2021
How crisis talks over Supercars’ Gen3 future could leave it without a paddle Prime

How crisis talks over Supercars’ Gen3 future could leave it without a paddle

With Supercars’ Gen3 era on the horizon, a shift is set to take place – in more ways than one – but, as has become clear in recent weeks, the plan to bin the stick and use paddles with electronic assisted shift has been met with fierce opposition

Supercars
May 24, 2021
Can DJR still be a Supercars powerhouse after Penske? Prime

Can DJR still be a Supercars powerhouse after Penske?

Roger Penske's whirlwind Australian Supercars sojourn is over. After six seasons, three drivers' titles, three teams' championships and a Bathurst 1000 crown, The Captain has sold his controlling stake in Dick Johnson Racing back to the squad and walked away from the category.

Supercars
Feb 26, 2021
Can Whincup be Triple Eight's ruthless leader? Prime

Can Whincup be Triple Eight's ruthless leader?

Supercars' most successful team of the past 15 years is set for a radical shakeup next year when Jamie Whincup retires from driving and takes over the reins at Triple Eight. But does he have what it takes to be the new Roland Dane?

Supercars
Feb 8, 2021
How a lifetime Supercars deal broke down in one year Prime

How a lifetime Supercars deal broke down in one year

David Reynolds inked what was effectively a lifetime deal with Erebus in 2019 – only to walk out a year later. What went wrong?

Supercars
Dec 18, 2020
Why Supercars now needs a new "human salt harvester" Prime

Why Supercars now needs a new "human salt harvester"

Scott McLaughlin has been a controversial figure in Supercars over the past few years but, as he heads off to a fresh challenge in IndyCar, the Australian tin-top series needs to find someone else to fill his drama-filled boots as the category enters a new era...

Supercars
Nov 3, 2020