James Courtney has won his first V8 Supercar title following the season-ending 250km race at Sydney's Olympic Park on Sunday
Jim Beam Racing Ford Falcon driver James Courtney finished 14th in the final race of the series in Sydney, but it was enough to win the championship title.
While Holden's Lee Holdsworth claimed the win on the 3.4km street circuit at Sydney's Olympic Park, the 30-year-old Courtney claimed the title by 65 points over Jamie Whincup (Team Vodafone) after a season-long battle which was decided in Sunday's second race of the 14th and final round.
Courtney, whose FG Falcon was badly damaged in a crash in Saturday's first race at Homebush, qualified 12 for Sunday's race and was 15th in the opening laps. He made his first pit-stop on lap 22, but a delay changing the right-rear wheel dropped him back to 26th. He made further pit stops on laps 27 and 52.
Holdsworth's victory, his first in three years, came after New Zealander Shane Van Gisbergen's Falcon ran out of fuel when he was leading on the last lap.
Van Gisbergen managed to limp home in third place with Ford's Steven Richards coming in second.
Courtney said after the race: "It's a great feeling to finally be champion after such a long season. We started back in February, and since then so much has happened on and off the track. I'm just happy to come out the other end with the most points.
"Jamie (Whincup) and I have both had our 'ups and downs'. He led the early part of the championship, then I got to the front and it's been a good battle.
"Our team put in a big effort to win this thing, and I'm very grateful to them and our sponsors and supporters. This weekend was like the whole season - you never knew what to expect next. My crew were working until 3am this morning fixing my car after yesterday's big crash.
"Today's race was about getting the job done, which I found harder than going all-out for the win. We had a problem with a rattle-gun changing a wheel in the first pit-stop, and that cost us time, but we got it back with Safety Cars. I was cruising in the last stint, keeping out of trouble because I knew if I held position it would be enough."
During the 26-race championship Courtney had five wins, three second places, a third, and a total of 16 top-five results. He is the first driver from Dick Johnson Racing to claim the title since John Bowe won in 1995, also in a Ford Falcon.
CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS (after round 14/final):
James Courtney (Ford) 3,055; Jamie Whincup (Holden) 2,990; Mark Winterbottom (Ford) 2,729; Craig Lowndes (Holden) 2,669; Garth Tander (Holden) 2,466.