Team Vodafone's Jamie Whincup took a narrow victory in the first race of the QueenslandHouseandLand.com 300 at Queensland Raceway.
Whincup held off Jim Beam's James Courtney in the closing stages after a race-long duel between the duo, Whincup leading early before going off at turn three on lap eight, possibly on oil dropped a few laps earlier by Whincup's own team-mate Craig Lowndes, handing the lead to Courtney.
But Whincup closed back in and retook the lead nine laps later at the same point on the track, the two fighting it out the rest of the way to the finish.
The big news of the race, apart from the battle between the leading duo, was the retirements of three of the leading contenders in this year's title race.
First to go was Team Vodafone's Craig Lowndes on lap two, laying oil on the circuit, particularly at turn three. Just before half-distance Holden Racing Team's Will Davison pitted and stayed there.
With six laps remaining the other HRT car of Garth Tander pulled off the circuit in a cloud of smoke, with oil dropped from the car at turn one sending several cars through the gravel.
Amid the chaos Mark Winterbottom had a strong return to form with third place in his Ford Performance Racing Falcon, even if he was nearly 15 seconds behind the leading duo, though he lost about four seconds and four places on lap three when he went off on Lowndes' oil.
Courtney's teammate Steven Johnson finished fourth, just ahead of Fabian Coulthard, a charging Todd Kelly on sprint tyres late in the race, Lee Holdsworth, Jason Bright and a fading Shane van Gisbergen, who ran sprint tyres throughout the race and dropped from third to ninth in the final seven laps.
Completing the top ten was Tim Slade, who followed up from one of his best qualifying performances in 17th to beat home team-mate Russell Ingall in the race results by two places, partly aided by using sprint tyres late in the race.
Rick Kelly put in a great drive, managing to climb up to 14th place after starting the race from the second-last row of the grid in 28th position.
Pos Driver Make Time 1. Jamie Whincup Ford Falcon FG 40:43.7708 2. James Courtney Ford Falcon FG + 0.5863 3. Mark Winterbottom Ford Falcon FG + 14.5262 4. Steven Johnson Ford Falcon FG + 17.2449 5. Fabian Coulthard Ford Falcon FG + 18.1863 6. Todd Kelly Holden Commodore VE + 18.6355 7. Lee Holdsworth Holden Commodore VE + 19.4500 8. Jason Bright Ford Falcon FG + 20.6006 9. Shane Van Gisbergen Ford Falcon FG + 21.278510. Tim Slade Holden Commodore VE + 41.973911. Steven Richards Ford Falcon FG + 43.041412. Russell Ingall Holden Commodore VE + 45.979013. Alex Davison Ford Falcon FG + 47.113914. Rick Kelly Holden Commodore VE + 47.874115. Michael Patrizi Ford Falcon BF + 52.381816. Tony D'Alberto Holden Commodore VE + 55.537917. Greg Murphy Holden Commodore VE + 57.110018. Jason Bargwanna Holden Commodore VE + 59.811119. Michael Caruso Holden Commodore VE +1:04.070620. David Reynolds Holden Commodore VE +1:06.559021. Jason Richards Holden Commodore VE +1:06.995922. Paul Dumbrell Holden Commodore VE +1:07.885623. Jack Perkins Holden Commodore VE +1:11.318124. Dean Fiore Holden Commodore VE + 1 lap25. Mark McNally Holden Commodore VE + 1 lapNot classified/retirements: Driver Make Laps Garth Tander Holden Commodore VE 27 Cameron McConville Holden Commodore VE 18 Will Davison Holden Commodore VE 14 Craig Lowndes Ford Falcon FG 1