Whincup kicked off the first event on the streets of Hamilton by setting the fastest time in practice.
On Saturday, however, his championship charge appeared in tatters after a tangle with Todd Kelly in qualifying saw his weekend come to an abrupt end.
Kelly returned to the track at Turn 5 after running marginally wide, and collected Whincup on the rejoin.
The #88 Team Vodafone Falcon speared into the concrete retaining wall and was extensively damaged. With the car a steaming heap with front and rear damage, coupled with the team being short on spares for the flyaway event, Whincup's weekend was over before it begun.
Tander completed a clean sweep, winning all three races and taking home the maximum 300 points.
It brought the reigning champion's season back to life after a disappointing Adelaide 500, where he recorded lowly finishes of 23rd and 19th.
Whincup dropped to fifth in the standings, behind new leader Rick Kelly, Tander, Lee Holdsworth and Mark Winterbottom.
In a remarkable recovery, Whincup won 13 of the final 29 races of the season to clinch the title at the Oran Park finale with two races to spare.
So clinical was his comeback, that he was back in the lead of the championship after Bathurst, and missed the top three just nine times in 29 starts following his Hamilton no-show.
The Repco Supercars Championship field will return to Victoria this weekend the Penrite Oil Sandown SuperSprint. Tickets are on sale now.