After posting the quickest time of the day in qualifying, Lowndes had the honour of final start in the top-10 shoot-out but was narrowly edged out of pole by the Triple Eight-engineered Commodore of Shane Van Gisbergen and FPR rival Mark Winterbottom.
“The car was very quick, we showed that in qualifying and unfortunately I just let it get away from me in the opening sector,” Lowndes said.
“It was my fault and from there, there wasn’t much I could do so to finish with a third is pretty satisfying.”
Reigning champion Whincup was just as nonchalant with his fifth placing, confident he can get the best out of his VF Commodore on Saturday.
“The car was great. Probably not as comfortable as I would have liked it but for a new car, it feels good,” Whincup said.
“It’ll take some getting used to, but we’re pretty happy.”
Race one of the Clipsal 500 on the streets of Adelaide will start at 2.50pm (Adelaide).