Veteran Craig Lowndes believes teammate Jamie Whincup is close to being the greatest Supercars driver of all-time, after the Red Bull racer joined Lowndes in the ‘100 club’ today at Sydney Motorsport Park.
Whincup’s 100 wins adds to a stellar record of six championships, four Bathurst 1000 wins and a 40 per cent podium finishing rate throughout his Supercars career.
Lowndes sits just ahead with 105 wins, but wouldn’t be surprised if he was overtaken by his younger competitor very soon.
The TeamVortex driver said it was fantastic to welcome Whincup into triple figures.
“I think there was no doubt about if he could do it, it was a matter of when,” Lowndes said.
“I think he’s had a stellar career, an amazing run since he’s been with Triple Eight.
“There’s no doubt he’s had great support around him, he’s maintained his focus throughout his championships. It’s quite easy to get a couple of championships and then sort of strut off into the wilderness but Jamie hasn’t done that, there’s no doubt he’s maintained his focus.
“He’s still as intense as he’s ever been on the data, he pushes [engineer David] Cauchi to the ‘nth’ degree, which you’ve got to do.
“I think Jamie quoted I was a ‘GOAT’ [greatest of all time] – I think he’s not far off it.”
Whincup brought up 99 races in Townsville back in July and was denied his milestone win by teammate Shane van Gisbergen at the following event in Queensland Raceway and yesterday in the final laps.
But today it was him who ended the fairytale for Lowndes in his 600th Supercars Championship race, jumping him in the pits in the second round of pit stops to ultimately sail 2.58sec ahead of the TeamVortex driver.
With plenty of hype about today, Lowndes was glad to have it behind him and now focus on the enduros.
“A little bit like Jamie, a little bit more relieved,” he said of crossing 600 off the list.
“We knew coming into this weekend it was going to be a bit of a milestone and it was great to celebrate that on the podium today.
“Yesterday didn’t go quite to plan for us, we had a poor qualifying and today we rectified that, had a ripper start, a great run, an exciting exit out of pit lane and credit to Jamie his car was quick today and deserved the win.
“To be honest, we were the second fastest car out there… really for us the focus today was to walk away third in the championship and we were able to do that, so it’s a credit to our guys who have turned the tables from yesterday.
“We’ve shut the door on the 600 and move to Sandown for 601.”
Triple Eight has locked in the top three positions in the Championship with Whincup leading Shane van Gisbergen by 137, and Lowndes 198 behind Whincup in third.
Mark Winterbottom has dropped back to a 273-point deficit heading to Sandown, where he won with Steve Owen last year.