The V8 Supercar Championship Series has a new leader and Jim Beam Racing's James Courtney has vowed to finish the job.

On a second dramatic day at Winton Raceway, Courtney became the most dominant driver of the second quarter of the season, virtually replicating the perfect start to the Championship of Jamie Whincup with four straight race wins.

Courtney's win - and 24th for Whincup after he was shoved into a dirt trap, ironically by one of Courtney's team-mates Jonathon Webb - combined to give Courtney a strong 114 point lead in the Championship leading into the next event in Darwin.

Whincup's Team Vodafone team-mate Craig Lowndes was second having led the majority of the race from Courtney which he couldn't hold to the end, while Fujitsu Racing's Lee Holdsworth finished a great third to put both team cars in the top five.

Jack Daniel's Racing's Rick Kelly was fourth having secured the first Armor All Pole position of the reasonably new team earlier in the day.

It's the first time since Phillip Island in 2008 that Whincup has not led the Championship and the talk afterwards was all about how he would handle the change mentally.

"It would piss me off a little if I was winning all the time and then I wasn't," Courtney said.

"He's someone I don't really talk to. I'm doing my own thing slugging my way out at the front. He has had really good starts to the season and then consolidated that. He's had quite and easy run and it's the first time in a long while he has had someone challenge him.

"Everyone's got pressure on them. It's not a matter of more pressure if you are at the front or the back, the pressure is part of life and always there.

"There's no reason why we can't (win). We have got great car speed at the moment and everyone is working really well together. Momentum is a beautiful thing so we'll keep that rolling."

No-one knows Whincup better than Lowndes who said he will come out swinging.

"I'm sure he is disappointed as anybody who loses the lead in the Championship would be," Lowndes said.

"He will work and dig harder now than he was before. He will come out punching, he will come out fighting and as James said we all have different pressures.

"I'm in a good position with an opportunity to continue it, James has got an opportunity to keep leading it and Jamie has got an opportunity to pass him back."

Holdsworth might have discounted himself from the Championship race but there's no doubt his Fujitsu Team is one fire.

"It's becoming a very common sight for our team to have both cars in the top five," he said. "We are moving forward, it's nice to finally get on the podium at my home track."

In the early parts Courtney showed great patience for several laps as he crept up on Lowndes every so slowly. He took his opportunity on lap 20 to get around Lowndes and then within an instance began charging on then leader Whincup.

But Courtney got caught up with young racer Daniel Gaunt who had completed his pit stop and with fresh tyres was dramatically faster, forcing Courtney to pit. It was hard luck for Courtney who lost a huge amount of ground while Lowndes made the most of the opportunity.

Whincup was left to pit leaving a big question mark to where he would re-appear. He also got tied up with Gaunt for a few laps before pitting on lap 27 (of 67).

The current Champion exited pit lane way behind Courtney, demonstrating that the first pit stop strategy of Jim Beam Racing was better than that of Whincup, but not Lowndes. It also proved that Jim Beam was racing Whincup at that stage and not Lowndes.

Whincup was ninth when he came out of the pits.

The cards fell for Courtney when Rock Racing's Jason Bargwanna prompted a safety car when he left the track into a gravel trap. It caused pit lane chaos and sent Lowndes straight in for his second compulsory stop with Courtney staying out.

While they didn't change positions the extra lap benefitted Courtney who was right on Lowndes' heels. Whincup stopped also but a problem changing the left rear tyre pushed him further down the pack.

From the restart Courtney got a little caught in traffic while Lowndes had an easier run but the real action was yet to come. On lap 45 Whincup found himself effectively out of the race after being whacked from behind by Webb and stuck solid in a gravel trap.

With a superior car and better tyres Courtney swooped on Lowndes during lap 57 then flew away to the end.

"I knew getting later in that last half of the race that James would have better balance in the car and even though we were pulling away from the field to keep him at bay was going to be difficult," recalled Lowndes. "I was never going to be able to hold him. After that he waved goodbye and I just concentrated on finishing second."

Kelly put his Jack Daniel's Commodore on pole position in a great positive for the young team.

"It's our first pole position for Kelly Racing and it's pretty exciting for us," said Kelly.

"We are very grateful for getting this and excited. On Friday our Jack Daniel's Commodore was very good. We made a couple of changes in the wrong direction for Saturday and it snow balled I guess and we had a very bad race. It was the worst race we've had all year by far.

"We needed to turn that around so it's exciting that we've been able to do that as a team."

Whincup bounced back again with second on the grid while The Bottle-O Racing Team's Paul Dumbrell returned to some of the great from of earlier in the season with third.



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