Jamie Whincup reeled off another V8 Supercars victory in race two at Austin's Circuit of The Americas, as he and Craig Lowndes took Triple 8's second 1-2 of the day.
"I'm sorry that the podium was the same for both races, we would have liked to have spiced it up but that's the way it goes," Whincup joked.
"We had a good run in Perth two weeks ago. We found a gain there and were going to see if it carried through until now, which it has. That wasn't the case earlier in the season but now we feel like we can have a crack. But like last year and the year before we are not going to slow down; we will keep our heads down and keep improving the cars. It always tightens up.
"They are stock cars. They are pretty much all the same, we pretty much run the same componentry and the same tire. We are just able to fine-tune the balance ... all the other guys will no doubt make a step up. For sure it will be more competitive, we just hope we are at the next step when they get there.
Whincup and Lowndes controlled the race throughout, running side by side through the opening sweeps before the champion moved clearly ahead.
After Lowndes gained on Whincup by running longer to his pit stop in race one, the strategies swapped in race two as Whincup stayed out longest of the front-runners. But Lowndes again came out best, as what had been a 3.8-second deficit to Whincup vanished once the pit stops were complete.
Lowndes did not manage to mount a serious challenge on Whincup, though, coming home a second adrift of the winner. Fabian Coulthard's early pit stop allowed him to hassle Lowndes for a spell, before the Brad Jones Holden driver slipped back into a fierce battle with Tekno duo Shane van Gisbergen and Jonathon Webb.
The latter had run third in the first stint before losing ground in the pits, but he got back into fourth when van Gisbergen slid wide in one of many assertive bids to pass Coulthard.
Rick Kelly's Nissan was sixth and on course to beat all the Fords until the final lap, when the car slowed and Mark Winterbottom and Scott McLaughlin came past. Kelly crossed the line eighth, with Will Davison resisting James Moffat and David Reynolds for ninth.
Results - 27 laps:
Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap
1. Jamie Whincup Triple 8 Holden 43m16.6491s
2. Craig Lowndes Triple 8 Holden + 1.0981s
3. Fabian Coulthard Brad Jones Holden + 10.6924s
4. Jonathon Webb Tekno Holden + 10.8520s
5. Shane van Gisbergen Tekno Holden + 11.1946s
6. Mark Winterbottom FPR Ford + 14.9792s
7. Scott McLaughlin GRM Holden + 16.5465s
8. Rick Kelly Nissan + 17.0775s
9. Will Davison FPR Ford + 20.6301s
10. James Moffat Nissan + 20.8736s
11. David Reynolds Rod Nash/FPR Ford + 21.6482s
12. Alexandre Premat GRM Holden + 23.6236s
13. Garth Tander HRT Holden + 27.2180s
14. James Courtney HRT Holden + 32.4208s
15. Michael Caruso Nissan + 32.5614s
16. Todd Kelly Nissan + 34.2161s
17. Alex Davison Schwerkolt/FPR Ford + 36.1665s
18. Russell Ingall Walkinshaw/HRT Holden + 42.0407s
19. Chaz Mostert Dick Johnson Ford + 42.3644s
20. Lee Holdsworth Erebus Mercedes + 42.6633s
21. Jason Bright Brad Jones Holden + 44.6860s
22. Scott Pye Dumbrell Holden + 46.3050s
23. Dean Fiore Dumbrell Holden + 51.8150s
24. Tim Blanchard Dick Johnson Ford + 53.0576s
25. Tony D'Alberto D'Alberto Holden + 59.4383s
26. Tim Slade Rosenberg/Erebus Mercedes + 3 laps
Maro Engel Erebus Mercedes 3 laps
David Wall Britek/BJR Holden 0 laps