Jim Beam Racing's James Courtney continued his recent dominance with his fourth consecutive race win of the season, winning the second race at Winton Motor Raceway comfortably after a late-race pass.
Courtney moved from sixth to third in the first 10 laps, taking second place from Craig Lowndes on lap 20. But by pitting two laps later for his first pitstop, he lost places to Lowndes and Lee Holdsworth. He soon passed Holdsworth but was still running second as they headed towards the finish.
The duo made contact when Courtney made his first attempt to take the lead on lap 53, sending Lowndes temporarily off track. Four laps later he made a clean move two corners further around the track, opening a gap of six seconds in eight laps in a race shortened by three laps due to a time limit.
Lowndes ran up front all race to take second, while third was Lee Holdsworth, gaining nearly 10 places by pitting early and then a safety car period just after half-distance not hurting his chances either.
After starting on pole, Rick Kelly finished fourth, a place he had drifted back to after the first 10 laps and stayed there for much of the rest of the race. Holdsworth's teammate Michael Caruso was next followed by Mark Winterbottom.
A couple of surprise finishers inside the top ten were Tim Slade in seventh and Tony D'Alberto in ninth sandwiching former series champion Garth Tander, with Slade and D'Alberto following up well after strong performances in race one as well.
But the big news of the race was the demise of Jamie Whincup. Whincup was one of the last to pit for his first pit stop, and although he'd led all the race up to that point, by staying out he gave up ground to his rivals, resuming in eighth place.
Some of this ground he hoped to make up with a quicker final pit top, but this went out the window when the safety car came out not long after half-distance. Fighting to regain lost ground after the restart, he went off into the gravel at turn four, possibly as the result of light contact he'd made while trying to pass another car.
Two laps were lost in the process of being recovered, and with it went any hopes of a decent finish, ending the race in 24th place, second last.
The last two events have seen a remarkable change in fortunes for Whincup. A 204 point lead over Courtney before the event at Queensland Raceway is now a 114 point deficit to new series leader Courtney after Winton, a turnaround equivalent to more than two race wins.
Whincup's teammate Craig Lowndes is another beneficiary, moving to 222 points behind Courtney and 108 behind Whincup, having gained 243 points on his teammate in those same two events.
Pos Driver Make Time
1. James Courtney Ford Falcon FG 1:37:31.2546s
2. Craig Lowndes Holden Commodore VE + 5.8512s
3. Lee Holdsworth Holden Commodore VE + 7.8623s
4. Rick Kelly Holden Commodore VE + 8.2908s
5. Michael Caruso Holden Commodore VE + 10.9253s
6. Mark Winterbottom Ford Falcon FG + 13.3963s
7. Tim Slade Ford Falcon FG + 15.0489s
8. Garth Tander Holden Commodore VE + 15.5144s
9. Tony D'Alberto Holden Commodore VE + 15.8486s
10. Paul Dumbrell Ford Falcon FG + 18.8907s
11. Jonathon Webb Ford Falcon FG + 21.7009s
12. Shane Van Gisbergen Ford Falcon FG + 23.2667s
13. Jason Richards Holden Commodore VE + 23.3718s
14. Steven Johnson Ford Falcon FG + 24.0608s
15. Greg Murphy Holden Commodore VE + 24.4492s
16. Russell Ingall Holden Commodore VE + 24.9889s
17. Alex Davison Ford Falcon FG + 25.3477s
18. Will Davison Holden Commodore VE + 38.3694s
19. Daniel Gaunt Holden Commodore VE + 48.3805s
20. Tony Ricciardello Holden Commodore VE + 49.9054s
21. Steven Richards Ford Falcon FG + 1:10.3997s
22. Todd Kelly Holden Commodore VE + 1:14.7018s
23. Karl Reindler Holden Commodore VE + 1 lap
24. Jamie Whincup Holden Commodore VE + 2 laps
25. Andrew Thompson Holden Commodore VE + 12 laps
Driver Make Laps
Jason Bright Holden Commodore VE 52
Dean Fiore Ford Falcon FG 39
Jason Bargwanna Holden Commodore VE 36
Fabian Coulthard Holden Commodore VE 34