Championship leader Jamie Whincup came close to the perfect day when he became the first man to win back-to-back ITM 400s in Hamilton, increasing his margin with the victory over Garth Tander and Michael Caruso.

The TeamVodafone ace was at his best yet again to break the domination of Toll Holden Racing Team's Tander at the last race in Adelaide, while Fujitsu Racing's Caruso was third in a great show from the side with his team-mate Lee Holdsworth fourth.

Whincup extended his championship lead over James Courtney, who suffered severe damage to the rear end of his car, pulling in for major repair work on lap 32 of 59. Courtney's demise meant he was leapfrogged by Ford Performance Racing's Mark Winterbottom for second in the points stakes.

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It was Whincup's day and he admitted it was close to his best race win of what is now 39 victories.

"The car wasn't perfect yesterday, but it was pretty close to perfect today," the champion said, "I love the place. It's a good event. The atmosphere before the race, guys yelling out, and it was a good place to be. It's relaxing. They love their sport over here. I will go home a happy man."

No-one was able to match Whincup, with Tander admitting as much.

"I think we can match him over one lap speed, but his car has better longevity and the way Jamie drives the car, he clearly makes the tyre live longer than anyone else at the moment.," the HRT driver commented, "We need to continue to work on that.

"We've been like that for nearly twelve months now with these guys. We have a few things coming that we think will improve our car for those conditions and we will have to continue to work hard.

"Jamie is the benchmark man to beat, but we are fighting back and I said we would. Where we sit in the championship is irrelevant, it is where we are to the leader that is important. We are going event by event. I know it's boring, but it is the way it is."

Like Whincup, Tander was glowing of the event which hosted 101,488 fans across the weekend.

"I think this event has done a fantastic job in the three years of its existence," he noted, "It gets compared to events like Adelaide and Adelaide's been running for 20 odd years when you factor in the grand prix as well," he said.

"What they have done here in Hamilton in three years is a fantastic effort. The atmosphere and the buzz around the place over the course of three days is fantastic and I think they are to be commended for the work they do here."

Caruso continued to prove his Fujitsu team has great pace on street tracks.

"This weekend, back on the street circuits, it's helped my style a bit better," he said, "In qualifying, we were in touching distance from the guys but I was pretty much hanging it out on the fence to do that. We know we have a bit to do in racing speed to stay with them.

"Lee and I are competitors on the track but, off it, we are mates. If we are to move forward as a race team and contend for races, we are going to have to work well together. With development you both have to be working in the same direction."

The only missing car today was that of Andrew Thompson in the Bundy Red Commodore, who had a heavy crash in qualifying and was unable to make the race..