Lowndes claims V8s record with win in Perth
Mark Skaife described Craig Lowndes as the perfect man to break his V8 Supercars record of most career race wins after the Holden driver cruised to victory in Perth on Saturday.
Lowndes equalled Skaife's milestone of 90 wins in the opening round of the season in Adelaide in March, but the 38-year-old Holden driver failed to take the chequered flag at the past two events in Tasmania and New Zealand.
But in his 212th event - fittingly the same number his great mentor Peter Brock notched in his storied career between 1974-2004 - Lowndes held off his Red Bull Racing teammate Jamie Whincup on the tight Barbagallo track to bag an emotional 91st win.
Skaife, who retired in 2011 and described his 2010 Bathurst victory with Lowndes as one of his career highlights, rushed down from his TV commentary booth to be the first to embrace his good friend.
"If I could choose any driver to break my record Craig is my pick every day of the week," said Skaife.
"When I broke Peter Brock's record (of most round wins in 2007) at Eastern Creek, Craig was the first person there when I get out of the car.
"That's typical of the guy he is."
Skaife added that given Lowndes's longevity and boasting a CV that includes winning the first of his three championships as a 21-year-old debutant and being a five-time Bathurst winner, he can now be talked about with the same motorsport reverence as Brock.
"Of all the great drivers I have competed against in three decades at the top, Craig is without doubt the most naturally skilled I have seen," he said.
"We as a sport have been incredibly lucky to have Craig on and off the track.
"His record and mass appeal places him alongside the greatest names in sport, and in that I include the great Peter Brock."
For Lowndes, it was a huge relief to finally tick off the milestone.
"It's quite remarkable," said Lowndes.
"It's been on the hit-list since Clipsal (in Adelaide).
"It has been hanging over my head for a little while. You try not to think about it but you know it's there because it's in the press so it's now nice to have finally done it."
Ironically, the triumph came in the 60/60 Super Sprint race format he "wasn't a big fan of" when first employed at Symmons Plains in Tasmania in early April.
The 120km battle includes a 15-minute "half-time break" and a rolling NASCAR-style double-file start for the second part.
Whincup led at the interval, but was overtaken by Lowndes on the 28th lap of the 50-lap race and held his nerve on the notoriously abrasive circuit for a comfortable triumph by almost two seconds.
His feat took the attention away from the much-hyped showdown between Whincup and Ford's Mark Winterbottom, who whacked and bashed panels at the previous event in Auckland that sparked a war of words.
Winterbottom resisted the urge to scrap with Whincup over the final stages and filled the final spot on the podium.
Whincup, who started on pole, jumped to the top of the championship standings ahead of Ford's Will Davison, who finished 14th after enduring tyre troubles in the first half.
Jason Bright was fourth followed by Alex Davison, Frenchman Alex Premat, David Reynolds, James Courtney, Shane van Gisbergen and Nissan Altima driver James Moffat rounded out the top 10.
The last lap before the break was a heart-stopper for South Australian Scott Pye.
Heading over the hill towards the final turn, Pye's Holden Commodore VF was nudged by Rick Kelly's Nissan Altima.
Pye got sideways at 260km/h and was airborne for about 20 metres before luckily not flipping but skidding across the inside grass.
There will be two 100km races on Sunday.