IN the 888th race since the inception of the V8 Supercars championship, Craig Lowndes has become its first ever centurion, with the five-time Bathurst winner charging to an emphatic fairy tale victory to become the first man in the sport’s history to claim 100 race wins.
The day got off to a less-than-ideal start, with the two qualifying sessions seeing the Red Bull Holdens off the pace, with Lowndes qualifying ninth and fifth, Whincup in third and 17th.
Race One saw more action in the 21-lap sprint than anyone could have predicted and unfortunately both Lowndes and Whincup came off worse for wear. With the order constantly changing outside of the top three as cars continued to spear off into the dirt, the pair finished 11th and 18th respectively.
The second 60km race saw the field don soft tyres, which proved to be the magic touch for the No. 888 Holden (an incredible coincidence). As more carnage ensued off the start, Lowndes came out cleanly and from there his lead was never in question.
“Starting fifth, I didn’t think I had much of a chance,” he said. “I snuck around the carnage at Turn 1, plucked a gear and off I went.”
An overjoyed Lowndes said he knew he had the tyres to go the distance after the safety car period (with 15 laps to go), but was wary of the restart.
“We really just knuckled down and kept the car straight. The car was probably quicker than I expected and from that point I was just able to drive the car home,” he said.
“For me, it’s just been a great career and I’ve been fortunate enough to be in some very good teams. Part of me is just so thankful to get it over and done with and get the 100th win. It’s nice to now finally have it done so I’ll try and get 101 now. It’s a great feeling! It’s a credit to the team as at the beginning of the race we didn’t know if we had the speed. For me it’s been fantastic.”