Prodrive Australia's Mark Winterbottom has extended his lead in the V8 Supercars championship battle after winning the 2015 Sandown 500 with co-driver Steve Owen.

Jamie Whincup led the race with around 50 laps to go but a slow pit-stop and a subsequent puncture cost the reining champion any chance of retaining his Sandown 500 title.

The Pepsi Max Crew duo started the 500 kilometre race - with co-pilot Owen behind the wheel - on the front row alongside Red Bull's Whincup and Paul Dumbrell.

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Owen kept the #5 Ford Falcon FG X in contention but fell behind the Jonathon Webb/Shane Van Gisbergen Tekno Autosports entry during the first round of stops.

It was the Triple Eight Holden, driven by Dumbrell, which lead the way at the front as the mandatory driver change phase of the race loomed.

Dumbrell looked to be in supreme form at the front of field and established a six second gap back to Webb in second. However, with the track not at it's optimum state, the Red Bull driver - struggling for grip - began to make a series a small errors.

Webb whittled Dumbrell's advantage down to barely over a second but the #1 Red Bull Holden still held the lead as Whincup took over the driving duties.

Whincup remained at the front for the best part of 60 laps as Van Gisbergen, Chaz Mostert and Winterbottom all disputed second position.

A tremendous opening stint from Mostert's co-driver Cameron Waters placed the #6 Pepsi Max Ford into contention after the Dunlop Series leader picked his way through the leading pack with a sequence of bold moves.

Eager to chase down the leading Triple Eight Commodore, Mostert latched himself under the rear wing of Van Gisbergen's Holden. But the Tekno Autosports driver's tough defence elevated Winterbottom ahead of his team mate.

That move proved critical as when Whincup pitted two laps later the reigning six-time champion's race began to unravel when a slow pit-stop cost him around six seconds.

Whincup's afternoon was about to get worse when a puncture well and truly deflated any chance of the 32-year old in retaining his Sandown 500 crown, alongside Dumbrell.

TV replays indicate that Whincup may well have picked up the puncture during his pit-stop after showing the right rear tyre of the Holden flicking up a foreign object when leaving the pit apron.

That left Winterbottom holding the high ground with around 50 laps to go.

A late safety car - needed to assist the marshals in retrieving an errant piece of debris - meant fuel consumption became less of a worry for the leading group of cars.

Mostert took that opportunity to close in on his team mate and came perilously close to launching a late move on Winterbottom. As it was, the Prodrive Ford's finished in perfect formation with 0.6 seconds separating the pair ahead of Van Gisbergen in third.

An alternative strategy from the HRT sqaud allowed Garth Tander to make a late charge for the podium.

The factory Holden driver passed The Bottle-O Falcon of David Reynolds during the later stages for fourth and closed right in on Van Gisbergen's Commodore, but couldn't quite find a way past the Kiwi.

Despite losing the race to Ford, Holden almost completed the remainder of the top-ten with Tim Slade, Lee Holdsworth, Tim Blanchard and Jack Perkins finishing in sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth.

Jack Daniel Racing's Rick Kelly was the only Nissan to make the top-ten in tenth.

It was a difficult afternoon for the British contingent making their first V8 Supercars appearance of the season.

Oliver Gavin - partnering Nick Percat - retired from the race early on after suffering from broken steering arm while Alex Bunocombe also endured a trying race, capped off by planting his Nissan into tyre wall at the final turn.