Craig Lowndes was left frustrated by Scott McLaughlin’s driving during a wild finish to the Coates Hire Newcastle 500.
A day of action ended with a dramatic twist as McLaughlin squeezed Lowndes into the left-hand wall on the run to Turn 2 while they battled for 11th on the penultimate lap.
Needing 11th to win the championship, McLaughlin held the place as Lowndes was sent crashing out, but lost it moments later when he was handed a time penalty for reckless driving.
While McLaughlin appeared in disbelief post-race, a frustrated Lowndes threw is gloves after alighting from his trashed Holden on the side of the circuit.
Lowndes dropped from sixth to 10th in points as a result of the incident, making for a sour end to an already poor season in which he went winless for the first time since 2004.
The battle with McLaughlin came after Lowndes took an extra stop for new tyres under the lap 70 Safety Car, ensuring the Caltex Holden had more pace in the closing stages.
“Scotty actually had really good drive off Turn 1 when we were following him, so we couldn’t attack him into Turn 2,” Lowndes explained to Supercars.com.
“On the lap that we had contact he slid wide for some reason, got a really poor run off Turn 1, we somehow got the overlap, he was trying to defend but we already had that overlap.
“Where we actually hit the wall was a gap. Who knows if it would have been a solid wall if it’d be not as bad, but it’s ripped the front-left out and we had no brakes.
“Hence why the thing actually rotated when we got closer to the corner.
“Luckily we went in backwards, to be honest, because if we went in forwards I think for me it would have been a harder impact on the body.”
Lowndes had also crashed out of Saturday’s race, making a mistake while running on his own towards what appeared a likely third place.
“We were fighting for sixth in the championship. That was our aim this weekend,” he said.
“We’ve ended up 10th out of all of this. It definitely hasn’t been a good day for us.
“It’s been a poor year to be honest… it would have been nice to be on the podium [to finish the year].
“Yesterday we had a good opportunity and I made a little mistake on the last corner and slid into the wall and today obviously everyone knows what happened.
“It’s disappointing to finish the year off in the way we have, it would have been nice to give the team something to celebrate tonight.”