Comparisons with Peter Brock still make Craig Lowndes uneasy.
But they will not be going away any time soon after the Holden veteran stormed to a remarkable sixth Bathurst 1000 crown at Mount Panorama on Sunday.
Any doubts over Lowndes’ V8 Supercars greatness were lost in the remarkable roar that greeted the popular 41-year-old on top of the podium beside co-driver Steven Richards.
They finished the epic 161-lap enduro less than one second ahead of Ford’s Mark Winterbottom and Steve Owen.
Holden’s Garth Tander and Warren Luff were third.
Incredibly, it marked a record 13th Bathurst podium for Lowndes – leapfrogging Brock, Richards’ father Jim and Larry Perkins.
Lowndes has now won five of the past 10 Bathurst titles.
But he shifted uncomfortably when talk inevitably turned to equalling Brock’s once untouchable record of nine Bathurst wins.
“I said it was doubtful, nine times is a lot of wins,” he said after his victory which marked Holden’s record 30th on the mountain.
“He was instrumental in helping me when I first came to the place.
“It’s an honour to have our names on that trophy.”
The victory ushered in another awkward topic for Lowndes – will he win his first championship since 1999?
His 101st career win helped Lowndes jump from fourth to second in the standings, just 399 points behind series leader Winterbottom with four rounds left.
“It’s a possibility but I will need a DNF or two from Frosty (Winterbottom) to have a chance,” Lowndes said.
Next is the double points Gold Coast 600 enduro from October 23 where Lowndes will again partner Richards.
Three-time V8 series champ Lowndes started from 15th on the grid – his worst Bathurst qualifying performance.
Yet Lowndes emerged with the lead in the pit-lane frenzy that followed the fourth and final safety car after Ford driver Scott Pye’s crash, setting up a final 20 lap sprint finish.
By the final lap Lowndes had established a three second lead over Winterbottom, who had overcome two black flag penalties for electrical gremlins that affected his brake lights.
It gave Lowndes the chance to slow down and savour his final lap in front of his adoring fans on the mountain.
“That last lap I backed off and really enjoyed the lap for what it was,” Lowndes said.
It made up for last year’s Bathurst debacle.
Lowndes blamed sun glare for late race contact on Winterbottom that ended both their Bathurst 1000 hopes with eight laps left.
“I screwed up,” Lowndes said.
“I wanted to make amends for Richo.”
However, Lowndes teammate – defending V8 series champion Jamie Whincup – again left Mount Panorama a frustrated man.
A second-placed Whincup was sensationally dropped to the back of the field with 20 laps left after ignoring team orders and being penalised for overtaking a safety car.
Twelve months ago he defied team orders and ran out of petrol on the final lap while leading.
Whincup finished 18th, and is eighth in the standings.
Meanwhile, Pye was taken to hospital with suspected broken ribs.