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Whincup: Qualifying swap a team decision

JAMIE Whincup has distanced himself from the move to bench Broc Feeney from qualifying for the Repco Bathurst 1000.

Whincup, Feeney’s designated co-driver, put his case forward with a fine run in the wet during Practice 4 earlier today, and was subsequently given the nod to take the reins of Car #88 for all-in qualifying.

Triple Eight team manager Mark Dutton described it as a means of protecting teen rookie Feeney, but it ultimately backfired with Whincup missing the Top 10 Shootout.

“It was a disappointing qualifying result in the end,” said Whincup after placing 14th.

“We were in the top 10 the whole time, but then we just dropped out at the last minute.

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“I’m yet to look at the data to find out what’s actually gone on, but the track was drying out and getting faster and we weren’t accelerating as far forward as the rest of the field were.

“It’s still TBC why that is, but overall, it’s disappointing.”

As for the call to have him qualifying instead of Feeney – something which raised eyebrows in certain sections of the pitlane – Whincup explained:

“The team made the decision for myself to qualify #88 as they thought I was the best option considering the tough conditions out there – I certainly didn’t put my hand up and say that I should be qualifying.

Jamie Whincup. Pic: Nathan Wong

“I took the opportunity and did the best I could, but I would have loved to have been in the top 10 but it wasn’t to be today.

“All we can do now is look forward to the race and who knows what Sunday has in store for us.”

Feeney appeared relaxed about the situation.

“I struggled quite a bit out there myself at the start of P4, but I’m still building up my confidence in a Supercar at this track in the wet,” he said.

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“We put Jamie in at the end of the session to make sure everything was all good and he went really well.

“He went straight to the top and ended up in P2, so the decision was made to put Jamie in the car for qualifying just on the basis that he was faster.

“It’s a good thing for me – I was happy to sit back and was well and truly happy for him to qualify today.

“We just missed it towards the end of qualifying which is a shame, but we managed to get P14 and we know we can do it from there.”

It was a tough day for the wider Triple Eight camp, with Shane van Gisbergen copping a three-place grid penalty for punting Macauley Jones, and the Supercheap Auto-backed wildcard locking in 16th on the grid.

The #888 entry had a similar dilemma when it came to which driver should qualify the car… and a similar outcome, with the experience of Lowndes favoured over the youth of Fraser.

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