Holden veteran Craig Lowndes believes he’s in the best position to end his 14-year wait for a fourth V8 Supercars crown after moving ahead of teammate Jamie Whincup in the series standings on Saturday.
Lowndes moved clear of four-time champion Whincup by winning an action-packed 300km race on the Gold Coast, taking a 36-point advantage with five races left in the year.
Whincup’s hopes of a third-straight title took a huge hit on a horror day when he had to start 25th after being penalised for causing a red flag in the qualifying session.
He then failed to drive a lap in the race when co-driver Paul Dumbrell first collided with Holden Racing Team driver Greg Murphy and then had to withdraw after their Commodore came to a halt in the middle of the 2.97km circuit.
Lowndes, who hasn’t won the title since 1999, feels a reversal of fortune on the Gold Coast puts him in with his best shot at ending the championship drought.
‘‘A couple of years with the lead in the championship and went out the backside in second,’’ he said.
‘‘Where we are right now is fantastic ... best shot I’ve had in a long time.’’
In a dramatic race where only five cars finished on the lead lap, Ford’s Mark Winterbottom backed up his Bathurst 1000 victory to move within 49 points of the championship lead by finishing third.
The Ford Performance Racing driver held off a challenge from Tony D’Alberto in the last few laps to earn a podium finish behind New Zealander Shane van Gisbergen despite having to pit midway through after a window popped off his Falcon.
‘‘Yeah, don’t know what happened, it just popped out,’’ Winterbottom said.
‘‘I can’t believe the car finished, the track is just brutal.
‘‘Ended up being a good result ... it’s a good thing to get back within 50 (points).’’
Whincup will earn a shot at redemption in Sunday’s 300km race but admitted his day had been far from an enjoyable experience.
‘‘We’ve taken a big hit today but we’ll come out tomorrow and see what we can do,’’ he said.
Sunday’s race begins at 1.45pm. - AAP