Jamie Whincup won a race Sunday at Circuit of the Americas — only one race.
Whincup took the fourth and final event of the Australian V8 Supercars debut in the United States, holding off Fabian Coulthard for the victory and getting the checkered flag from former University of Texas quarterback Vince Young.
It was Whincup’s third win of the weekend, all of them front-running efforts that lacked some of the paint-swapping action the rough-and-tumble Aussies were supposed to provide for the 68,891 fans who attended over the weekend.
The four 27-lap races around the shortened 2.4-mile circuit did, however, push the drivers to their limits.
“It was crazy, crazy hot out there,” said Whincup, who won both Saturday races. “I felt like I lost six months of my life this weekend.”
With the temperature above the 90-degree mark once again, the air in the cars soared to about 140 degrees Sunday. Whincup weathered the heat to pick up his 70th career win and extend his points lead this year in a series he was won four of the past five years.
The most intriguing race of the weekend, though, was the one Whincup didn’t win, Sunday’s first race. As usual, he started from the pole, but atypically, he couldn’t hold the lead.
“The track changed massively over the weekend,” said Whincup. He said car setups that worked on Saturday didn’t necessarily work on Sunday.
With Whincup struggling for once, Lockwood Racing’s Fabian Coulthard, 30, picked up the third win of his career. Coulthard was winless heading into this season but is benefiting from better equipment this year.
“To win the race was pretty awesome,” Coulthard said. “I just want to keep winning.”
His victory was being reviewed by race officials to see whether there had been a pit lane violation. Coulthard could be penalized, and some other drivers might also draw penalties. Finishing behind Coulthard were the Red Bull Racing Australia duo of Craig Lowndes and Whincup. However, it appeared late Sunday that officials were going to allow Coulthard to keep the win.
For the final race, Whincup again started on the pole, but Lowndes, who took second in both races Saturday, qualified in the 12th position.
Red Bull owner Roland Dane said of Lowndes’ Sunday morning qualifying: “It’s so tight, and everyone today is more on their game. They’ve learned from yesterday. A few liberties are being taken by some of the cars through the first section on the curbs, probably a few laps that aren’t quite legal.”
Coulthard, who finished third in both Saturday races, chased Whincup without success and came up second, with Shane Van Gisbergen making the podium in third.
“My opportunity was coming out of the pits, and I missed it,” Coulthard said.
The heat on Sunday was somewhat less than Saturday, when 90 people were treated at the circuit. It was not known how many fans received treatment Sunday.
As for the action on the track, it featured some more aggressive driving than on Saturday, but drivers said there were several things they could do, such as switching tires, to spice it up more for next year.
The fourth and final race for the Aussie Supercars pretty much marked the end of the first spring racing season at the circuit. On June 27-29, the circuit will host the Formula Sun Grand Prix, but that’s an endurance race of solar cars for mostly college teams, not something likely to appeal to those race fans who might have found the Supercars tamer than advertised.