Winterbottom: Scoring maximum points key to championship

By Ed Jackson

Mark Winterbottom driving the #5 Pepsi Max Crew Ford during  the ITM 500. Photo / Getty Images
Mark Winterbottom driving the #5 Pepsi Max Crew Ford during the ITM 500. Photo / Getty Images

Scoring maximum points on Sunday has been the key to Mark Winterbottom's V8 Supercars championship charge.

The Ford Performance Racing driver has claimed two of his three race wins this season on Sundays to hold a 101-point lead over Holden's Craig Lowndes going into this weekend's Darwin Triple Crown.

Under the new format for this season's championship race winners from each of the two races on Saturday only pick up 75 points per victory while a win on Sunday brings in 150 points.

Winterbottom says his Sunday successes in Winton and Auckland this year have been crucial to ensuring he stays top of the title chase.

"We've had two 150 point wins whereas if you win Saturday it's 75 points, that doesn't really give you a big points haul. Sunday's your main one," Winterbottom told AAP.

"You can't control that, you've got to race every race as it is but ideally you'd wish they'd give you more tyres so you could push hard in every race. Sunday's your big ticket points-wise."

Winterbottom heads to the Top End with a strong record at Hidden Valley, having claimed three race victories at the venue and finishing on the podium in nine of his past 12 starts.

Lowndes, who will celebrate his 40th birthday this weekend, and defending V8s champion Jamie Whincup are also strong threats at Darwin having won a combined 10 races in the Northern Territory.

Winterbottom believes a minimal tyre allocation could prove decisive in Sunday's race, especially if one of his rivals fails to finish either of Saturday's 100km sprint races.

"The tyre allocation is really average up there. They've only given us two sets of hards and two sets of softs," he said.

"If someone has an issue on Saturday, they may have a good set of tyres left over for Sunday whereas if you finish both races on Saturday you've got to mix a set for the Sunday.

"The way the weekend and the tyre allocation is, it could give anyone a chance. Sunday could be anything."

The V8 Supercars Darwin Triple Crown begins on Friday with three practice sessions from 11am (1130AEST).

-AAP

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