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Lowndes wins as Whincup moves closer

22 November 2009

It was a tale of two mates, one about to celebrate a magnificent achievement and the other left a shattered man.

A freakish moment has left the V8 Supercar Championship Series virtually down to one man – Jamie Whincup.

On a bizarre day Whincup set up an almost unassailable lead of 281 points in the Championship ahead of Will Davison. In two weeks time at the Sydney Telstra 500 it will be almost impossible for Whincup to not take the title.

Davison did not finish today's second race of the BigPond 300 in Perth. TeamVodafone's Whincup was fourth behind team-mate Craig Lowndes, Jim Beam's Steven Johnson and Toll HRT's Garth Tander.

Davison's campaign effectively ended in extraordinary circumstances. A last corner crash between Jack Daniel's Racing's Todd Kelly and Garry Rogers Motorsport's Lee Holdsworth prompted a crazy chain of events.

Kelly spun around the last turn with what appeared to be a nudge from behind, leaving him stranded sideways and in the line of fire. He attempted to restart, appeared to stall and Holdsworth came flying around the corner straight into his passenger side.

The incident brought about a safety car. When Kelly's car was shifted away it left a river of fluid on the track right before pit entry as half the field dived in to stop under safety car.

Davison was one of those but the fluid left him driving on roller skates. He couldn't negotiate the pit entry, crashing into the tyre barrier. The front end damage proved catastrophic. At the time he was just a couple of places behind Whincup.

“What a way for it to finish,” Davison said. “I would have liked to at least fought it out. The track was covered in rubbish and I got no information about it. I just hit the wall.

“Jamie has had a phenomenal year and I wanted to run it right down to the wire. It was such an anti-climax. It's shattering for it to virtually end this way. It should not be like this to virtually have a Champion today. What do you do?”

In the other corner Whincup was not exactly celebrating wildly but quietly grinning to himself, not at the expense of his buddy.

“It's that close it's ridiculous,” Whincup said of a second straight Championship. “But I'll be working as hard as I have been in the past month going into Sydney. I've got a massive opportunity to drive a V8 Supercar around Olympic Park which is a massive deal to the team and a massive deal to our sponsors.

“My year is not finished now, I'm not going to cruise home.”

Whincup's team-mate Lowndes won today, his first victory in Perth in a Ford. It went a way to silencing some critics who during the week claimed he was too old. It was his 74th career race win.

“I'm as old as I think I am but not as slow as they think I am,” Lowndes said.

Jim Beam's Steven Johnson was second, his first podium in Perth and Tander third on the day his wife Leanne was sent to hospital after a heavy crash in the Mini Challenge.

“We played it simple and straight,” Johnson said of using the soft tyres today. “It's really easy to try too hard and tell yourself not to push it because we are racing car drivers after all. We just played it very sensibly today.”


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