He didn’t quite win it, and he didn’t bin it — but Jamie Whincup had a memorable final drive at the Bathurst 1000 after being honoured for his brilliant and controversial Supercars career.
Whincup ended a 20-year Supercars full-time driving career with a fourth-place finish on the mountain.
On a day when the great race was stopped for a safety car at one point due to an echidna on the track, the drivers had to deal with everything being thrown at them.
Whincup and co-driver Craig Lowndes were up and down all day — at some stages, they were well down the field.
At others, they were as high as second and third in race order while everyone tried to catch eventual winners Chaz Mostert and Lee Holdsworth.
With just under 50 laps to go, Whincup came in for a pit stop and as he was leaving pit lane, he collided with an over-eager Will Davison.
Davison picked up a five-second penalty, but the incident slowed down Whincup at a crucial time, dropping him back outside the top 10.
It looked like his chances of a farewell win were gone, but then Anton De Pasquale came to a halt with just over 20 laps left, then Broc Feeney hit the wall on the mountain, prompting final safety cars and bringing the cars together.
At the last restart, Whincup was in fifth spot, ready to go hell for leather for his final stint.
As expected, he gave it everything in the closing laps, moving up to fourth but unable to get through for a podium finish.
A philosophical Whincup kept it all in perspective after the race.
Whincup’s career mixed triumph and controversy
Whincup’s four Bathurst wins and seven Supercars drivers’ championships were matched by several incidents that caused controversy.
Whincup won Bathurst three times in a row from 2006 to 2008 for Ford and he also won in 2012 after his team moved to Holden.
In 2014, he was in the mix for another win on the mountain but he ran out of fuel on the final lap while pushing his car to the limit against eventual winner Chaz Mostert.
The following year, he was in a dice for the lead with teammate Craig Lowndes but after Whincup made an illegal overtake of the safety car, he was given a drive-through penalty that left him and co-driver Paul Dumbrell to finish in 18th spot.
On Sunday, before his final race, the drivers and crews gathered to honour Whincup as he was inducted into the Supercars Hall of Fame.
“A big thank you to our Prime Minister for being here for the biggest day in Australian motorsport,” Whincup said.
“I want to thank friends and family, not just my family, but all the families, especially Queensland, who’ve been away for six to eight weeks, we appreciate the effort to keep the (Supercars) championship going.
“Thank you to the fan base, everyone who’s come out, everyone watching at home but, in particular, I’d like to thank my peers.