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Rookie Webb scores shock maiden win

Rookie Jonathon Webb scored an amazing maiden win in a bizarre race one of the Sydney Telstra 500 on the streets of Homebush, which saw all three championship contenders aquaplane into the wall on lap 60

The race turned upside down when the three championship contenders Mark Winterbottom, James Courtney and Jamie Whincup, running 1-2-3, decided, along with the rest of the field, to remain on slicks as the race restarted on lap 60.

A track which had been somewhat wet before the safety car period was now undriveable on slicks as the leaders found out, all three slamming into the wall at the Turn 5 sweeper, with many of the drivers behind following suit.

All three had broken front right suspension, and limped back to the pits. Courtney returned to the track with a couple of minutes to spare, Whincup returned after the leader had started his final lap on a timed race but Winterbottom never left the pits.

Courtney was classified 15th, while Whincup was one lap back but not classified a finisher because he failed to complete his final lap in a time less than two times the fastest lap of the race.

However, it was not because his car was not fast enough, but because the control line was at the entry to the pits, which he had last crossed when he entered the pits immediately after the crash 20 minutes earlier.

The decision to declare him a non-finisher all but ended any hopes of a battle for the title in tomorrow's final race.

All the chaos meant that Jonathon Webb was the leader as the race restarted on lap 65, the race eventually only running another four laps due to a time-certain finish. He just held on on the final lap as Jason Bright, who had started from pitlane, chased him down but ended a lap or two short of being able to make a challenge.

Rick Kelly was third, with Steven Johnson fourth and Bundaberg Red Racing's Fabian Coulthard completing the top five. The two Fujitsu Racing cars of Michael Caruso and Lee Holdsworth were next with Coulthard's team-mate Andrew Thompson eighth and the last car on the final lap, only 15 of the 29 starters declared finishers.

Neither Holden Racing Team car made the finish, which made a bad day even worse after a poor qualifying was followed by both drivers receiving drivethrough penalties for separate incidents on cars from their sister team Bundaberg Red Racing.

With one race and 150 points remaining, Courtney leads the championship by 113 points over Whincup, with Winterbottom 263 points behind and out of the title hunt. A 22nd place finish will be enough to secure Courtney the title even if Whincup wins the race. Conversely, Whincup needs to finish fourth or higher to have any possibility of taking the title away from Courtney.

Pos  Driver                Make                  Time
 1.  Jonathon Webb         Ford Falcon FG        2h09m06.9995s
 2.  Jason Bright          Holden Commodore VE2  +     0.6375s
 3.  Rick Kelly            Holden Commodore VE2  +     6.6071s
 4.  Steven Johnson        Ford Falcon FG        +     9.9613s
 5.  Fabian Coulthard      Holden Commodore VE   +    12.1441s
 6.  Michael Caruso        Holden Commodore VE2  +    19.0878s
 7.  Lee Holdsworth        Holden Commodore VE2  +    26.7878s
 8.  Andrew Thompson       Holden Commodore VE2  +  1m02.4793s
 9.  Jason Bargwanna       Holden Commodore VE2  +      1 lap
10.  Paul Dumbrell         Ford Falcon FG        +      1 lap
11.  Steven Richards       Ford Falcon FG        +      2 laps
12.  Russell Ingall        Holden Commodore VE2  +      2 laps
13.  Tony D'Alberto        Holden Commodore VE2  +      2 laps
14.  Dean Fiore            Ford Falcon FG        +      4 laps
15.  James Courtney        Ford Falcon FG        +      7 laps

Not classified/retirements:

     Driver                Make                  Laps
     Jamie Whincup         Holden Commodore VE2   61
     Shane Van Gisbergen   Ford Falcon FG         60
     Craig Lowndes         Holden Commodore VE2   60
     Mark Winterbottom     Ford Falcon FG         60
     Todd Kelly            Holden Commodore VE2   59
     Will Davison          Holden Commodore VE2   59
     Garth Tander          Holden Commodore VE2   59
     Alex Davison          Ford Falcon FG         59
     Andrew Jones          Holden Commodore VE2   59
     Greg Murphy           Holden Commodore VE2   57
     Tim Slade             Ford Falcon FG         53
     Tony Ricciardello     Holden Commodore VE2   33
     Warren Luff           Holden Commodore VE2   15
     Karl Reindler         Holden Commodore VE     5

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