Behind the #888, though, a new battle began to unfold, with Ford's favourite son Winterbottom hounding an ailing Whincup.
The #5 Orrcon Falcon was the aggressor, with Winterbottom eyeing second place.
On lap 159, Winterbottom made his move. The circuit narrowed at Turn 9, and it seemed as though the #5 was far enough up the inside.
Whincup turned in and was shuffled wide onto the dirt, and Winterbottom drove away and set off after Lowndes.
Following the incident, a late charge wouldn't amount to much for Winterbottom, with Lowndes going on to secure an eighth 500km enduro win.
So much was at stake at the time of the incident; Whincup finished third, but at least stretched his one-point championship lead over Winterbottom to 31 points.
It came after Winterbottom was forced to start from the rear of the grid after an infringement, with Whincup and Paul Dumbrell starting midpack.
While he retained his championship lead heading to Bathurst, there was an element of disappointment for Whincup, with Winterbottom escaping penalty.
"I was a little bit sour about that," admitted Whincup, who thought the move was "not on".
"It was a late lunge, but I congratulated Frosty after the race.
"At the end of the day it wasn't a huge deal because I wasn't quick enough to win the race."
Lowndes and Luff won the race, while Winterbottom won the battle
The overtake attempt frustrated Triple Eight boss Roland Dane: "If you look at the accident, Winterbottom wouldn't have made the corner properly if he hadn't used Jamie to bounce off."
Having been on the receiving end of several Whincup masterclasses, Winterbottom was coy in his response: "Sometimes you're on the end of it, sometimes you're the guy that does the pass."
Whincup would have the last laugh in 2012, going on to win at Mount Panorama with Dumbrell before clinching a fourth drivers' title.
In 2013, they would again come to blows in New Zealand, with Whincup laying down the gauntlet to his rival: "If he wants to go toe-to-toe, I'm happy to. I'll do that any day of the week without absolutely any dramas.