Team Vodafone's Jamie Whincup followed on from pole position with victory in race one of the ITM 400 on the streets of Hamilton in New Zealand.
However, he didn't have it all his own way, losing the lead to Garth Tander on lap six before moving back ahead during the first round of pitstops. Whincup then opened a five-second break after the second round of pit stops only for it to disappear with a safety car period at three-quarter distance.
But when racing resumed, Whincup pulled away to take the win, on his way setting a fastest lap that all but equaled his pole position time despite having 50-lap old front tires.
Tander took second place but also was made to work for it. After dropping to third during the opening round of stops, when he ran longer, he was right on James Courtney's tail before a lock-up at turn one on lap 34 of 59 cost him two seconds.
Tander pitted immediately, with Whincup and Courtney pitting the next lap. Courtney lost out badly after having to wait for cars to pass in the "fast" lane of the pits before he could exit his pit.
Running third well behind Tander, Courtney's hopes of a better finishing position looked all but over until the safety car came out, having moved up four places to second during the first round of pit stops after pitting early, moving up well from his ninth position on the grid.
He then pushed Tander and looked like he might make a dive at him in the closing laps before he clipped the curbs and tires hard at the chicane with four laps remaining, his car getting high on two wheels, damaging the suspension and was lucky to avoid ending his race, Courtney holding on to third ahead of Lowndes at the finish.
Steven Johnson was next in sixth place, closely followed by Mark Winterbottom, Rick Kelly, Paul Dumbrell and Lee Holdsworth, completing the top 10 finishers.
After a poor qualifying following contact, Will Davison's day looked like turning around, running in 11th place through most of the race despite a hard hit exiting the final turn in the opening laps. But an engine issue in the closing laps forced him to park the car, scoring no points.
Another driver who had a poor qualifying didn't even make it to the end of lap one, local hero Shane van Gisbergen out after getting hit in the rear early on the first lap, with several other cars involved.
Pos Driver Make Time
1. Jamie Whincup Holden Commodore VE 1h30m34.7140s
2. Garth Tander Holden Commodore VE + 2.4217s
3. James Courtney Ford Falcon FG + 3.9397s
4. Craig Lowndes Holden Commodore VE + 5.6609s
5. Michael Caruso Holden Commodore VE + 10.1978s
6. Steven Johnson Ford Falcon FG + 12.4079s
7. Mark Winterbottom Ford Falcon FG + 14.8344s
8. Rick Kelly Holden Commodore VE + 15.9982s
9. Paul Dumbrell Ford Falcon FG + 16.6233s
10. Lee Holdsworth Holden Commodore VE + 16.8618s
11. Jason Richards Holden Commodore VE + 21.8036s
12. Tony D'Alberto Holden Commodore VE + 22.8227s
13. Jonathon Webb Ford Falcon FG + 23.3867s
14. Andrew Thompson Holden Commodore VE + 24.8015s
15. Jason Bargwanna Holden Commodore VE + 28.2740s
16. Karl Reindler Holden Commodore VE + 32.2194s
17. Alex Davison Ford Falcon FG + 34.7587s
18. Greg Murphy Holden Commodore VE + 35.0209s
19. Daniel Gaunt Holden Commodore VE + 44.0034s
20. Todd Kelly Holden Commodore VE + 44.5215s
21. Jason Bright Holden Commodore VE + 56.8432s
22. Fabian Coulthard Holden Commodore VE + 58.9999s
23. Tony Ricciardello Holden Commodore VE + 1 lap
24. Steven Richards Ford Falcon FG + 4 laps
Driver Make Laps
Will Davison Holden Commodore VE 54
Tim Slade Ford Falcon FG 42
Dean Fiore Ford Falcon FG 13
Russell Ingall Holden Commodore VE 11
Shane Van Gisbergen Ford Falcon FG 0