|Jamie Whincup and teammate Craig Lowndes celebrate 1-2 finish|
Sheer devastation for Nissan's Michael Caruso has inadvertently helped Jamie Whincup's surge further towards the V8 Supercars Championship lead after a race he never looked like winning, but somehow did.
Caruso was shattered by a late race penalty for punching into the side of Scott McLaughlin's Volvo while making a lunge for the lead, forcing a drive-through penalty that lost a race he looked almost certain to win. He also took out McLaughlin who never recovered from the contact.
While the Nissan heartbreak of going so close to victory prevented what should have been victory for all five manufacturers in 2014, it ended with the Red Bull Racing Australia team celebrating its second straight 1-2 result on the day.
Caruso drove his Norton Hornets Altima to the limit in what was a battle between, believe it or not, Nissan and Volvo from the start. Caruso had started alongside the Valvoline Racing GRM S60 and pushed McLaughlin in the mid part of the race before taking a lunge that spun his rival.
It seemed virtually certain that at some point Caruso was going to pass McLaughlin; and that both had the measure of Whincup and Lowndes.
To his credit, the moment that McLaughlin came back into the pits post-race Caruso went straight to his rival's garage and apologized to the young Kiwi.
"I had a chat with Scotty afterwards and apologized to him. Obviously, the incident was not intentional," said Caruso, one of the most popular drivers in the paddock.
McLaughlin accepted the apology, perhaps knowing that it also ruined Caruso's race.
"I don't blame the guy for having a go, just one of those things," said McLaughlin.
"I am pissed off but at the end of the day everyone makes mistakes. You move on, we have got tomorrow and you enjoy it. I am good mates with Michael, it makes it a bit awkward, but we are grown men having a go out there."
The back story of the day though was Whincup further punching into the lead of Mark Winterbottom, cutting the deficit from 96 points to 48 in the day.
Winterbottom's again made the most of poor Saturday qualifying to hang in but there was little he could do to catch the Red Bulls. He will now need to rely on his strong Sunday form in 2014 continuing tomorrow.
A reserved Whincup would realize the significance of being in the rear view mirror of Winterbottom, as much as he did not admit it.
"We feel confident that we've made some gains from the start of the year which is what it's all about. I don't like to talk Championship, not this early," Whincup said.
"This part of the year is about going hard and winning as many races as you can. I feel like we are in contention but we will see where we are after Gold Coast."
Whincup and Lowndes had it all their own way in the opening race, reminiscent of a battle earlier this year in Tasmanian that didn't end so well for Lowndes.
Back in March at Symmons Plains an aggressive Whincup's passing attempt ended with Lowndes' Holden Commodore VF off the road and the two drivers meeting in the team transporter post-race for a heated discussion including team boss Roland Dane.
This time Whincup took the lead on lap 22 when Lowndes bobbled coming on to the Queensland Raceway's main straight, Lowndes reasserted himself at turn two and then Whincup out-braked him into turn three and bolted to a 4.5 sec win.
"There's no team orders, we raced hard and fair and I hope people enjoyed it," the defending Champion said. "He had an issue coming on to the straight, then I run a bit deep into one, he got me back and then I had a lunge back into three …. happy days.
"It was hard and fair, Tassie is well and truly behind us. We want to race."
Lowndes has sprung up the Championship table from sixth to third, overtaking Fabian Coulthard, with Shane van Gisbergen ahead of James Courtney and McLaughlin.
Mostert has also jumped a position, passing David Reynolds for 10th.
The final race of the Coates Hire Ipswich 400 runs tomorrow, with qualifying at 12.55pm AEST to determine the starting grid for the 200km race.
Race 1 Results
|Pos||No./Driver||Entry / Team||Started||Laps||Race Time|
|1||1Jamie Whincup||Red Bull Racing Australia||2||33||39:15.7017|
|2||888Craig Lowndes||Red Bull Racing Australia||1||33||39:20.3372|
|3||33Scott McLaughlin||Valvoline Racing GRM||3||33||39:23.6640|
|4||14Fabian Coulthard||Lockwood Racing||4||33||39:27.9192|
|5||22James Courtney||Holden Racing Team||5||33||39:30.6187|
|6||5Mark Winterbottom||Ford Pepsi Max Crew||7||33||39:30.7468|
|7||9Will Davison||Erebus Motorsport V8||6||33||39:30.8667|
|8||2Garth Tander||Holden Racing Team||15||33||39:34.6118|
|9||55David Reynolds||The Bottle-O Racing Team||8||33||39:37.4100|
|10||97Shane van Gisbergen||Team TEKNO V.I.P. Petfoods||9||33||39:38.5410|
|11||15Rick Kelly||Jack Daniel's Racing||13||33||39:38.8489|
|12||222Nick Percat||HHA Racing||11||33||39:40.1430|
|13||36Michael Caruso||Norton Hornets||18||33||39:41.1875|
|14||6Chaz Mostert||Ford Pepsi Max Crew||10||33||39:42.1128|
|15||47Tim Slade||Supercheap Auto Racing||14||33||39:42.1155|
|16||16Scott Pye||Wilson Security Racing||16||33||39:42.3813|
|17||4Lee Holdsworth||Erebus Motorsport V8||23||33||39:42.5476|
|18||8Jason Bright||Team BOC||17||33||39:42.8700|
|19||17David Wall||Wilson Security Racing||21||33||39:46.3467|
|20||23Russell Ingall||Repair Management Australia Racing||24||33||39:47.3813|
|21||18Jack Perkins||Team JELD-WEN||19||33||39:48.3062|
|22||21Dale Wood||Team Advam/GB||25||33||39:54.5054|
|23||34Robert Dahlgren||Valvoline Racing GRM||20||33||39:55.6090|
|24||7Todd Kelly||Jack Daniel's Racing||12||31||40:19.0952|
|DNF||360James Moffat||Norton Hornets||22||30||36:4.2300|
Race 2 Results
|Pos||No./Driver||Entry / Team||Started||Laps||Race Time|
|1||1Jamie Whincup||Red Bull Racing Australia||3||33||39:6.3767|
|2||888Craig Lowndes||Red Bull Racing Australia||4||33||39:6.8850|
|3||6Chaz Mostert||Ford Pepsi Max Crew||7||33||39:18.6282|
|4||97Shane van Gisbergen||Team TEKNO V.I.P. Petfoods||5||33||39:24.5554|
|5||15Rick Kelly||Jack Daniel's Racing||6||33||39:26.4988|
|6||5Mark Winterbottom||Ford Pepsi Max Crew||11||33||39:26.6028|
|7||222Nick Percat||HHA Racing||8||33||39:27.0640|
|8||2Garth Tander||Holden Racing Team||12||33||39:27.4297|
|9||14Fabian Coulthard||Lockwood Racing||10||33||39:28.2163|
|10||22James Courtney||Holden Racing Team||13||33||39:29.6982|
|11||8Jason Bright||Team BOC||14||33||39:30.0264|
|12||16Scott Pye||Wilson Security Racing||17||33||39:30.4512|
|13||360James Moffat||Norton Hornets||20||33||39:30.8345|
|14||9Will Davison||Erebus Motorsport V8||15||33||39:32.9170|
|15||55David Reynolds||The Bottle-O Racing Team||19||33||39:34.3726|
|16||7Todd Kelly||Jack Daniel's Racing||16||33||39:35.1280|
|17||47Tim Slade||Supercheap Auto Racing||9||33||39:35.7600|
|18||4Lee Holdsworth||Erebus Motorsport V8||21||33||39:36.5054|
|19||33Scott McLaughlin||Valvoline Racing GRM||1||33||39:38.1836|
|20||17David Wall||Wilson Security Racing||25||33||39:38.4360|
|21||23Russell Ingall||Repair Management Australia Racing||23||33||39:38.8257|
|22||34Robert Dahlgren||Valvoline Racing GRM||18||33||39:40.5632|
|23||21Dale Wood||Team Advam/GB||22||33||39:41.0679|
|24||36Michael Caruso||Norton Hornets||2||33||39:43.5623|
|25||18Jack Perkins||Team JELD-WEN||24||33||39:46.7595|