Winterbottom held a tenuous lead until lap 45, when Courtney used his superior car speed to get by and extend his points gap to nearest rival Whincup.
The scheduled 65 laps was cut to 60 due to television timing commitments, giving Winterbottom just 15 laps to hold off Whincup and Holdsworth in a tense final phase of the race. Ultimately, Courtney was able to win and marginally extend his lead heading into the Sydney 500 at Homebush, while the trio of Winterbottom, Whincup and Holdsworth took their fight for second right to the line, Winterbottom holding off by less than a car length from Whincup and Holdsworth just four one-thousandths of a second behind in fourth.
The win for Courtney was both timely and emotional. Boardroom dramas have the iconic Dick Johnson owned race team facing an uncertain future, and Courtney's manager Adam Gow has flown in from the UK for talks on the young star's future.
“We've had a few kicks to the family jewels lately, but we've been able to step back up there and do the job," Courtney said. “With the things going on in the team and everything all around us, for the boys to keep their heads down and keep focused, the win goes to them.”
The championship is now down to Whincup and Courtney, just 53 points apart, while Mark Winterbottom is an outside chance, 203 points behind Courtney with just 300 left to play for.
by Jacob Black