Triple Eight Racing’s Jamie Whincup has won the 2020 BetEasy Darwin Triple Crown after a strong Sunday in the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship round at Hidden Valley Raceway in Darwin.
Having received a time penalty in Saturday’s race where he finished 17th, Whincup bounced back in Sunday’s two races to claim a win and runner-up finish.
Starting the weekend’s final race on the front row alongside Scott McLaughlin, who himself had a comfortable lights out to chequered flag victory in race two, Whincup secured his first win since February.
Following the compulsory pit stop, Whincup made the most of the undercut and held on to top spot over McLaughlin, who finished second ahead van Gisbergen in third place, while Chaz Mostert and Fabian Coulthard rounded out the top five in the day’s final race.
Remarkably, Whincup finished the round on the same amount as points as Coulthard, but was awarded the outright Triple Crown title on count back, courtesy of his race win.
“That was a great battle. Reminded me of the old 2017/2018 days when we would be going ahead to head with the others (DJR Team Penske),” Whincup said post-race.
“It (the results) came off the back of resilience. We kept chipping away at the car all weekend and made it faster for race three.
“I thought after the penalty yesterday, we were done and dusted for the Triple Crown but it was fantastic to have a fantastic day today.
“All in all, we finished the weekend with a win and we couldn’t be happier.”
McLaughlin also had a solid set of results on Sunday, with the outright championship leader ending the weekend in third place on the Triple Crown standings after he had a difficult start to the weekend, where he finished the first race second last.
While Sunday proved a masterclass for the more experienced drivers, it was an afternoon to forget for Anton De Pasquale after the Victorian placed outside the top 20 in the last race, ending his hopes of a potential Triple Crown title.
It was a stark contrast to the round’s opening race 24 hours earlier where De Pasquale became the latest driver to notch up their first career Supercars victory in what has been a turbulent season.
De Pasquale started the from the third row, but it didn’t take long for chaos to ensure as two-time race winner Nick Percat was knocked by Shane van Gisbergen, which resulted in the latter being given a drive through penalty.
Soon both Whincup and McLaughlin received penalties of their own, with the former’s time penalty occuring due to an unsafe release in pit lane against De Pasquale, who went on to produce a strong performance and take out a maiden victory over James Courtney and Scott Pye.
“Obviously we threw everything at it today, which means we’re going to have a struggle tomorrow but that’s OK when you can talk about a win. It paid off,” De Pasquale said after Saturday’s race.
“We had a really good car, our cars are always good around here so it is good to get a result. The team has been begging for a win, so it’s awesome.”
Following on from the round, McLaughlin ended the weekend 101 points ahead of Whincup on the overall standings.
The Virgin Australia Supercars Championship stays in Darwin for another week with the CoreStaff Darwin Supersprint to take place at Hidden Valley on 22-23 August.