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November 18th, 2012
Jamie Whincup secured his fourth V8 Supercars title by charging back from a penalty to finish third at Winton, as his Triple 8 Holden taem-mate Craig Lowndes claimed victory.
Whincup had dropped down to 25th place when he was given a drivethrough penalty for spinning his wheels before being lowered to the ground at the first pitstops.
The drama came shortly after Whincup had taken the lead of the race for the first time.
The early laps had been led by Will Davison, the only frontrunner to take the start on soft tyres. But an early safety car hurt his strategy, and as the Ford Performance Racing Falcon got tangled up with Michael Patrizi, who had not pitted under the caution, at the restart, Whincup blasted through.
Once the points leader’s penalty was imposed, it was Whincup’s remaining title rival Mark Winterbottom up front for the middle part of the race.
Lowndes had been delayed queuing behind Whincup in the stops, but was making assertive progress through the order.
He caught Winterbottom shortly after both had made their final pit visits, and rapidly got past, assuming the lead for good once the whole field had pitted.
As Winterbottom fell away from Lowndes in second, the championship was moving ever further out of the FPR man’s reach given Whincup’s spectacular comeback drive.
The reigning champion reached the top 10 shortly after the final stops, and then gained another seven places over the remaining 20 laps.
With seven tours to go, Whincup had caught the tight battle for third between Shane van Gisbergen, Tim Slade and David Reynolds.
Fourth would have been enough to wrap up the title with one meeting to go, but Whincup ultimately passed all three and could celebrate from the podium.
Van Gisbergen had to settle for resisting Slade and Jason Bright for fourth, as Reynolds was shuffled back to eighth behind Jonathon Webb.
Davison’s strategy left him on hard rubber in the final stint when most rivals were running softs, and he could do nothing to avoid tumbling to 11th place.