He may have started in pole position but Kiwi Shane van Gisbergen fell victim to a drive-through penalty, scuppering his chances of winning today's opening 200km V8 Supercars event in Townsville.
Van Gisbergen was penalised for a pit lane infringement after 39 laps and finished well down the order in 17th position.
Taking the soft tyre option almost paid off for Craig Lowndes but in the end he became a hard luck story as Ford's Will Davison claimed victory.
A bold plan to be the only driver to start on the faster soft compound tyres initially paid big dividends for Lowndes, jumping from 12th on the starting grid to the lead by lap nine of the 70-lap event.
At one stage the five-time Bathurst champion was 22 seconds ahead of his nearest rival. And he held his nerve after finally switching tyres with 39 laps left, regaining the lead ahead of a pursuing pack led by Davison.
However, Lowndes was finally overwhelmed by Davison by lap 58 as his hard tyres - and hopes of a podium finish - went up in smoke.
''We had to do something different. We opted for softs early and had a great start,'' Lowndes said.
''But the hards went away faster than I thought.''
Instead of taking a big chunk out of Holden teammate Jamie Whincup's series lead, Lowndes had to settle for fourth spot. He now trails Whincup by 135 points.
Davison claimed his second win of the season, finishing more than four seconds ahead of Ford teammate Mark Winterbottom and Holden's Fabian Coulthard.
Overall, it was a frustrating day for Lowndes' Holden team.
Whincup started outside the top 10 on a race grid for the first time this season after clocking only the 16th fastest time. Despite winning five of the last eight Townsville races, Whincup could not regain his Midas touch up north and finished seventh.
Wily veteran Russell Ingall marked a record 226th race start - but failed to finish.
The second and final 200km race will be held from 1535 AEST tomorrow.