The dramatic life of the last Sandown 500 winner

30 Aug
The most recent Sandown 500 winner has seen it all
3 mins by James Pavey

The Penrite Oil Sandown 500 is back at the fore in Supercars, with next month’s round the first enduro at the Melbourne circuit since 2019.

So, what has come of the most recent car to win the Sandown 500?

The most recent running of the race, in November 2019, was taken out by Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes in Triple Eight chassis 888A-053.

As far as cars go, 888A-053 has seen more than its fair share of success and drama, and has been through many different hands.

Triple Eight debuted 888A-053 for Whincup in 2019 in a season dominated by Scott McLaughlin and DJR Team Penske.

It was a fruitless start to life in Supercars, Whincup going winless through the early rounds of the season, the seven-time champion losing a wheel at Phillip Island and crashing out in Townsville. 

The car didn’t taste victory until the the Ipswich SuperSprint in July 2019, before Whincup and co-driver Lowndes won the Saturday race at the Gold Coast 600.

Lowndes and Whincup dominated the co-driver sprints at Sandown, before turning up on Sunday and winning the 500km race itself.

It won again on Sunday at the season-ending Newcastle 500, before Whincup backed it up with victory in the opening race of 2020 at the Adelaide 500.

The car’s final main game victories came at the hands of Whincup in Darwin and two in Townsville — but it also suffered its fair share of hits and misses.

Notably, Whincup and Lowndes finished fourth in the controversial 2019 Bathurst 1000, before Whincup crashed out of the Great Race 12 months later.

It was benched for 2021 as Whincup received a new car — or so it seemed, until Triple Eight announced a wildcard program for Broc Feeney and Russell Ingall.


It was Feeney’s first main game start for Triple Eight ahead of his full debut in 2021 — replacing Whincup — while Ingall was coaxed out of retirement.

Feeney ran in the top 10 late in the 2021 race before he crashed across the top of the Mountain, ending what was a promising campaign.

That wasn’t the end of the road for 888A-053, however, with Lowndes returning to the car as Triple Eight opted to continue its wildcard program.

For 2022, Lowndes was joined by Triple Eight Super2 driver Declan Fraser, and they duly raced to eighth at Mount Panorama. It was the best finish by a wildcard in Bathurst history, bettering the 10th by another Triple Eight wildcard in 2013.

From there, 888A-053 was destined for Super2 — but a major incident on the Gold Coast saw the car thrust back into action towards the end of 2022.

Fire erupts as multiple cars wrecked in huge crash

PremiAir Racing driver James Golding was part of a major bingle in the Gold Coast finale — which, ironically, included Feeney — aboard his regular car.

Such was the damage to his car, that Golding was parachuted into 888A-053 for the season-ending Adelaide 500. Golding retired from the first race, but handed 888A-053 a final main game farewell to remember with a smart drive to 10th.

With Super2 regulations allowing for Ford Mustangs and Holden Commodore ZBs in 2023, 888A-053 returned to racing life at the hands of rookie Cooper Murray, who debuted in Super2 with Eggleston Motorsport.

Murray duly raced the car to first-up victory in Newcastle, with 888A-053 adding a Super2 win to its 10 main game victories. After three rounds in 2023, Murray is third in the standings behind Zak Best and teammate Kai Allen.

The car Allen is currently steering, 888A-052, is another former Triple Eight car, having been raced by Shane van Gisbergen in 2018 and 2019.

And perhaps, in the most ironic twist of all, 888A-053 won the 2019 Sandown 500 after 888A-52 suffered a dramatic suspension failure while leading at the hands of van Gisbergen.

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