Championship Order To Be Decided

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Marcus Ambrose out of NASCAR and back into V8 Supercars. Image courtesy of:

Going into the Sydney 500, Mark Winterbottom , Craig Lowndes and Shane van Gisbergen are all keen to grab second spot in the V8 Supercar drivers’ championship behind Jamie Whincup , who has already wrapped up a record sixth title.

Third in the title race 95 points behind Winterbottom, Lowndes is hell-bent on securing Red Bull Racing Australia and Triple Eight a fourth straight 1-2 championship finish, which has never been done by a team in over half a century of ATCC/V8SC history. If Lowndes can finish second overall, it’ll be the sixth time the 40-year-old has been runner-up (2005, 2006, 2011, 2012 & 2013). That would sit nicely with his three championship successes. And to help pump Lowndesy’s tyres a bit more, he’s the only repeat winner on the streets of Olympic Park (Race 1 in 2011 & Race 1 in 2012).

If Winterbottom can finish runner-up, it would equal his best championship result achieved back in 2008. Frosty has been a regular title contender and never finished outside the top five since joining Ford Performance Racing in 2006. His problem is that Holdens haven’t been beaten on street circuits this season, with Commodores taking all eight races held in Adelaide, Townville and the Gold Coast.

Van Gisbergen is another driver desperate to finish the year on a high. Fourth and 39 points behind Lowndes, the Kiwi can notch his best-ever championship result, with his previous best being fourth in 2011 when driving for Stone Brothers Racing. ‘The Gis’ has finished on the podium in five of the last seven races at Olympic Park since 2010 (four third-places and a win in 2013 on the Sunday).

But wait there’s more!

The X-factor in Sydney will be Marcos Ambrose , who is making his first V8 Supercar appearance in just over nine years. Ambrose won successive championships in 2003 and 2004, before racing in NASCAR in the US. With Ambrose on board, this is the first time in 12 years Dick Johnson Racing has run three cars in a V8 round. Ambrose will have the number 66 on his DJR Falcon, a number which has double meaning. Sydney will be his 66th V8 Supercar Championship round start and 66 is also the number carried to victory in the 1972 Indianapolis 500 by Mark Donohue – the first victory in the famed race for Roger Penske, who becomes a controlling partner in the team next year.

But for all of this, the Sydney 500 has become the most unpredictable round of the V8 Supercar Championship with nine different winners in the ten races held since 2009. The 3.42km circuit also has a reputation as the biggest car-killer in the series! 

Chris Bombolas - Tatts Senior Writer

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