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Whincup dismisses favourites tag at the Sandown 500

WhincupSandown15Despite dominating qualifying in today’s qualifying races at the Wilson Security Sandown 500, Jamie Whincup has dismissed suggestions that he and co-driver Paul Dumbrell are favourites to take their third Sandown win in a row.

By taking first place in the unique ‘Race for the Grid’ format, Whincup and Dumbrell earned Holden’s 300th Championship pole, and Whincup’s first since the season opening Clipsal 500.

“Not at all,” Whincup said when asked if he and Dumbrell are now favourites to win tomorrow.

“If we had the quickest car I’d feel a bit more confident. It’s anyone’s game tomorrow. It’s a long500km, anything can happen.”

Championship leader Mark Winterbottom had a close call with Prodrive Racing Australia teammate Chaz Mostert late in the second race, with Mostert taking to the grass after contact.

Both regathered, and will start tomorrow’s big race from second and third, respectively.

“Everyone sort of says they’re going to play it smart for tomorrow, and then there’s cars in the fence and everyone is just going hectic,” said Winterbottom of the action packed qualifying races.

“It’s a long way tomorrow. We’ll go to bed happy and tune her up tomorrow and come again.”

While Whincup starts on the front row, Red Bull teammate Craig Lowndes will be off the rear of the grid, taking a pit-lane penalty after contact with Jack Perkins in the #22 Holden Racing Team Commodore.

Perkins raced well early but had little luck, caught by an out of control Andre Heimgartner with two laps remaining, leaving the #22 with major damage. Perkins and the returning Russell Ingall will also start from the rear of the grid.

Shane van Gisbergen and David Reynolds rounded out the top five, ahead of Tim Slade and Lee Holdsworth.

There’s a final 20-minute warm-up session tomorrow morning before the 500km race, which goes green at 1.25pm local time.