Craig Lowndes is not giving up on winning the fourth Supercars title that has so far eluded him.
Lowndes, who has been stranded on three titles since 1999, now has just one more opportunity to add a fourth Supercars crown to his honour roll thanks to his plans to retire at the end of the current season.
To make it happen he’ll need to overcome what is currently a 413-point deficit to the in-form Scott McLaughlin.
As daunting as that may seem, and statistically unlikely as it may be to win the title from that far back, Lowndes is holding out hope that he can still get it done.
“It’s a bit premature [to give up on a fourth title]; we’ve still got six months to go, we’re going to be fighting hard until the end of this year,” he said.
“But look, I’ve had a stellar career and I’ve been second numerous times to Jamie [Whincup], which has been a thorn in my side but he’s been a fantastic teammate.
“I think that for me, there are probably all sorts of reasons why that fourth championship never came. We’ve been in positions where we had an opportunity maybe to win that fourth championship, but again, I’m not disappointed with what we’ve achieved.
“And we’ve got six months to go, we’re sitting fourth in the championship, we’re going to push really hard this weekend and beyond and see where we end up.”
Lowndes’ three titles came very early in his ATCC career, securing rookie success in 1996 with the Holden Racing Team before adding another two championships in 1998 and 1999 after he returned to HRT after brief stint in Europe.
Since then Lowndes has second in the points six times, inside the top four another six times – but never managed to secure a fourth title.
He went painfully close to winning the title in 2006, Lowndes falling just 37 points shy of Rick Kelly. The pair staged an epic showdown in the season finale at Phillip Island, including a controversial run-in that saw Lowndes turned around and Kelly slapped with a drive-through penalty.
In 2011 he went close to running down teammate Whincup in the points thanks to a solid mid-season, just 35 points separating the two after Lowndes took a win and a second from the final round in Sydney.
While the fourth title has been just out of reach, Bathurst has been a happy hunting ground for Lowndes.
He’s conquered Mount Panorama a total of six times, five of those triumphs coming since he joined Triple Eight in 2005.
Given he’ll continue with the team as an enduro co-driver beyond the end of the season Lowndes could feasibly match or even beat Peter Brock’s record nine Bathurst wins. But for now, Lowndes says he’s only focussed on winning a seventh alongside Steve Richards later this year.
“For me, Bathurst has always been the highlight of the year, I’ve always been open about that,” he said.
“So there’s no doubt that when we get to Bathurst this year, Richo and I – and I’ve spoken to Richo – we’re going to give it our all to make that, for me, number seven and another one for the team.”