It looked as if Jamie Whincup could have led from the front, as he did in the last 60/60 Super Sprint V8 Supercars race at the Coates Hire Ipswich 360.
The Red Bull racer had broken his own record for ARMOR ALL Pole Positions in a season earlier in the day, recording his 11th for the year, but a failure just 10 laps into the 40-lap race saw the Championship leader stopped on the straight.
That handed the lead to the swarming Norton Hornets, with Michael Caruso pulling away, his teammate in tow. Pepsi Max FPR driver Mark Winterbottom was third in the chain when the cars entered pit lane for the end of the first half, though he was being pushed to the FPR garage after he seemed to have run out of fuel.
Whincup’s car was retrieved but even if repaired he would not complete the minimum laps to qualify as a finisher – so instead he jovially watched the race from the pit lane wall.
On the restart, Moffat took the lead from his teammate, and while he led the way home, had a big moment six laps before the end, Caruso pouncing on the opportunity and right on his bumper.
The restart was clean, though battles formed throughout the pack, and Bright jumped into third.
While it was expected, there were no incidents to bring out the Safety Car. In the past at Winton Raceway the Safety Car had featured in the last 80 percent of V8 Supercars races at the circuit.
Moffat became the 11th different driver to win a V8 Supercars race this season, and the fourth to win his first race this year. His previous best was fourth at Queensland Raceway in 2011.
Following the two Norton Hornets home was Bright, Winterbottom, James Courtney, Will Davison, Fabian Coulthard, Garth Tander, Russell Ingall and David Reynolds.
Others to note include rookie Scott Pye in 12th – his best finish since Race Two of the Championship, where he was 11th at the Clipsal 500 – and Craig Lowndes in 21st.
Today’s race was an opportunity for Lowndes to bridge the points gap to Whincup, following the leader’s first DNF of the season.
Whincup is now ahead of Lowndes by 101 points on 1803. Third is Davison, 143 points adrift; Winterbottom 162 behind and Brad Jones Racing pair Bright and Coulthard tied for fifth, 246 points behind the leader.
Interestingly five teams appear with both drivers positioned together in the points – Red Bull Racing Australia’s one-two, Pepsi Max FPR three-four, with BJR, Holden Racing Team and TEKNO Autosports following suit.
Today’s race is followed by back-to-back 15-minute qualifying sessions tomorrow at the Winton 360, ahead of two 100km races on Dunlop soft tyres.