Craig Lowndes could be Mark Winterbottom’s last V8 Supercars challenger standing after a day of drama on Phillip Island.
Lowndes and Red Bull Racing team-mate Jamie Whincup took race wins at the coastal circuit as the veteran whittled back Winterbottom’s points lead to just 209 points on Saturday.
Fellow title-challenger David Reynolds was left in their dust, losing ground in the title race after being nudged off the track by Shane Van Gisbergen.
Reynolds blew his top at Van Gisbergen’s move, declaring the Kiwi “dead to me” after the 220km/hour incident placed him last in race one.
The Ford man recovered in the second sprint, finishing fifth to keep alive his faint title hopes.
But the series now looks a two-car race between Winterbottom and Lowndes after he steered the No.888 to a record 10th win on the island.
There are a maximum 450 points left to play for, including a 200km race on Phillip Island on Sunday and the season-ending meet in Sydney in a fortnight.
Lowndes’ record-breaking victory came off the grid, when he vaulted past Whincup and Volvo driver Scott McLaughlin on the front row into the lead.
Series leader Winterbottom fell away from his grid position of fifth to finish seventh, after his garage made a late decision to change the engine inside his Ford Falcon.
In a more sedate race two, Whincup jumped McLaughlin on the start and led the field home.
The greatest uncertainty came from an investigation, ultimately withdrawn, into whether the No.1 Commodore jumped the start line.
Winterbottom placed fourth, minimising the damage to his overall points lead.
Stewards will conduct a post-race investigation on Van Gisbergen’s drive, which Reynolds’ team boss Rod Nash called a “stupid driving desperation move”.
V8 SUPERCARS RESULTS
RACE 31 RESULT
1. Craig Lowndes (Holden)
2. Jamie Whincup (Holden)
3. Scott McLaughlin (Volvo)
4. Shane Van Gisbergen (Holden)
5. James Moffat (Nissan)
RACE 32 RESULT
1. Jamie Whincup (Holden)
2. Scott McLaughlin (Volvo)
3. Craig Lowndes (Holden)
4. Mark Winterbottom (Ford)
5. David Reynolds (Ford)
1. Mark Winterbottom (Ford) – 2887
2. Craig Lowndes (Holden) – 2678
3. David Reynolds (Ford) – 2610
4. Garth Tander (Holden) – 2375
5. Shane Van Gisbergen (Holden) – 2371