After an open first half of the Supercars championship, the cream is rising to the top in this year’s title race.
Six-time champion Jamie Whincup heads into this weekend’s Ipswich SuperSprint at Queensland Raceway holding a narrow 53-point lead over Red Bull Racing teammate Shane Van Gisbergen.
Just behind them is reigning champion Mark Winterbottom, with the Ford ace only 22 points adrift of Van Gisbergen.
It means despite a season featuring 10 different race winners and multiple championship leaders the top trio are starting to take a stranglehold on this year’s title battle.
Holden veteran Craig Lowndes and Volvo’s Scott McLaughlin are hanging into the title race but are already 153 and 171 points behind Whincup respectively.
Winterbottom, who won both races at Ipswich last year on his way to his maiden Supercars title, says the fact the track is the home of his Red Bull Racing rivals could be as much of a hindrance as a help.
“Going to your test track doesn’t always work for you,” the Prodrive Racing Australia star said.
“Conditions can change and you’ve tested all these items and then you don’t get on top of it and a fresh team has new challenges.
“It will make for good racing at that track, it is always a tough one and I just hope we can win again because it does feel better when you can beat them on their home turf.”
Winterbottom will make his 400th Supercars’ race start on Saturday but Holden ace Whincup is also chasing a major milestone.
Whincup posted his 99th career race win at Townsville earlier this month and victory in either of the two races this weekend will make him the second driver in Supercars history after Lowndes to win 100 races.
Lowndes himself will be hoping to add to his 11 race wins at the venue in a bid to reignite his flagging championship tilt.
The Ipswich SuperSprint begins on Friday with practice before a 39-lap race on Saturday and a 65-lap race on Sunday.
MILESTONES AND FORM FOR THE SUPERCARS’ CHAMPIONSHIP CHASERS
* Championship leader Jamie Whincup is chasing a 100th career race win after his 99th victory in Townsville earlier this month.
* Red Bull Racing’s Shane Van Gisbergen has the most wins this season with three and has finished in the top 10 in 28 of his last 30 races.
* Ford’s Mark Winterbottom will make his 400th race start in Saturday’s 39-lap event. He has 37 of those races.