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Winding up “Chapter One” in Winton

Winton may be the test track for 19 cars on the V8 Supercars grid, including arch rivals HRT and FPR, but series leader J-Dub isn’t necessarily fussed as he looks to extend his championship lead this weekend.

And why would he be? He’s a 2012 race winner at Winton and finished on the podium in 13 of his past 16 races at a track where cool suits won’t be necessary.

Never the less, the corner-heavy Winton circuit isn’t without its challenges – 27 other cars for one, including the aerodynamically efficient but power deficient Nissans that won’t have to contest with high-speed straights.

“Winton is the test track for all the Melbourne-based teams so without doubt we will have our work cut out for us,” says J-Dub, who leads Lowndesy in the championship by 129 points.

“The guys who test down there will have an advantage – especially with the Car of the Future set-up. But that’s OK, we’re not daunted.

“History shows we have a good record there and some good results. So we’ll put our heads down and try and bring back that silverware to Queensland.”

It’s been a month since the last round at Queensland Raceway when J-Dub fell victim to not one but two self-destructing tyres on the Sunday. And with some serious over-time clocked in the workshop since, the reigning champ is quietly confident the Red Bull VF Commodores will well and truly be on the pace this weekend.

“We’ve had a month between the two rounds and everyone at Red Bull Racing Australia has really put their heads down,” J-Dub says.

“We’ve got some new parts and some new thinking coming in to Winton this weekend. Fingers-crossed that makes us quicker and we can put in our best performance of the year.

“Winton is the end of Chapter One of the championship. It’s really important to lead into the season of endurance on a good note. And for the championship, it’s also going to be important to put in a couple of solid results.”

And speaking of the upcoming endurance rounds, J-Dub has rubbished suggestions he’s less equipped than Lowndesy come Sandown and Bathurst.

“There’s plenty of talk every year about who makes a charge when and who comes home strong. But it’s all rubbish at the end of the day,” J-Dub says with a grin.

“Both cars are handling really well and if we both put our best foot forward this weekend we should be in with a good shot and come out one-two in the championship.”

Winton will feature another 60/60 format race on the Saturday before two 35-lap sprint races on the Sunday.

It will also see Casey Stoner back behind the wheel in the Dunlop Development Series after securing the best result of his debut season in Queensland last month.

Practice gets underway Friday.

Fun facts

–       Triple Eight have won six of the past 11 races at Winton.

–       J-Dub and Lowndesy both won a race at Winton last year.

–       Triple Eight has been on the podium 11-straight races at Winton

–       J-Dub has qualified top-three in the past five races at Winton – including pole last year.

–       The past six of eight races Lowndes has finished on the podium – three times on the top step.

–       There is an 80 per cent chance of the safety car coming in to play. Winton hasn’t had an incident-free weekend since 1999.

–       J-Dub has won almost 42 per cent of pole positions this year. Another one Winton will see him break the record he previously set of 10 in a season.

–       J-Dub and Lowndesy are two of only four drivers to complete all 24 races this season.

–       The Winton circuit is 3km long with a top speed of just 225km/h and average speed of 131km/h.