LATE last year, The Daily Telegraph ran through a list of the 10 most dominant Australian athletes of the past decades.
To the surprise of nobody who has watched Supercars in the past 10 years, No.1 on that list was Jamie Whincup, beating out rugby league, AFL and surfing stars to the accolade.
To say Whincup rewrote the championship’s record books in that time would be an understatement: he has taken every single record worth having and made it his own for at least the foreseeable future.
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Race wins, pole positions, titles; you name the career success stat, Whincup probably tops it.
The only Australian touring car racing metric he doesn’t currently top is Bathurst 1000 wins — and if you turn all his recent near-misses at Mount Panorama into victories he would be tied with Peter Brock on nine.
But the true illustration of the mark Whincup has left on the last decade is to compare his success rate against his peers.
On the eve of the new season, these are the numbers that show just how far Whincup is ahead of the pack.
70.0 per cent (7 out of a possible 10)
This is the headline statistic. Whincup stands alone on ATCC/V8/SC championship wins, his career tally of seven putting him two clear of Dick Johnson and Pete Geoghegan.
Of his contemporaries only Craig Lowndes comes close with three, although his last came in 1999 — four seasons before Whincup made his first start as a full-timer in 2003.
Beyond his long-time teammate, no other driver currently on the grid has more than one title to their name.
Championship winners in the last decade
7 — Whincup
1 — James Courtney, Mark Winterbottom, Shane van Gisbergen
32.7 per cent (101 out of 309 starts)
Whincup missed out on being the first Supercars racer to race up a century of championship race wins — that honour went to Lowndes — but he is the first and only driver in the sport’s history to claim 100 wins within a 10-year period.
Of his 108 race wins, 101 of them have come since the start of the 2008 season. In short, Whincup has won almost one in every three races he’s started this last decade.
Keen-eyed stats fans will note that there have actually been 312 races held since the start of the 2008 season. Whincup missed all three races of Supercars’ inaugural trip to Hamilton in 2008 after a crash during qualifying.
Top 10 race winners in the last decade
101 — Whincup
36 — Lowndes
34 — Winterbottom
24 — Garth Tander, van Gisbergen
19 — Will Davison
16 — Scott McLaughlin
15 — Courtney
11 — Chaz Mostert
9 — Fabian Coulthard
25.8 per cent (74 out of 287 qualifying sessions)
Although he took his time to get his first pole under his belt, the numbers show that Whincup has been Supercars’ strongest qualifier over the past 10 years.
He has won the annual Armor All Pole Champion Award six times in the past 10 years; again, no other driver has won it more than once in that time.
Only one of his career tally of 75 poles — that maiden pole position at Queensland Raceway in 2007 — came outside the last decade, with Whincup topping qualifying once in every four sessions in that time.
Though Lowndes is closest to him on career tally (41), it is Scott McLaughlin who is emerging as the driver most likely to claim this statistic in the future. He almost doubled his career tally last year to move to 33, putting McLaughlin fourth among current drivers on career numbers but second overall looking at the past decade alone.
Another stat to think about is Whincup’s front row appearances: with 148 in his 309 races since the beginning of 2008, Whincup has been on the front row in almost half the races he’s started in the past decade.
Top 10 pole winners in the last decade
74 — Whincup
33 — McLaughlin
31 — Winterbottom
22 — Lowndes
19 — Tander, van Gisbergen
17 — Davison
16 — Mostert
9 — Courtney
8 — Jason Bright, Coulthard
TOP THREE/PODIUM RACE FINISHES
59.55 per cent (184 out of 309 starts)
In short, Whincup has sprayed more than his fair share of champagne.
The career stat alongside his name — 182 — compiles round podiums up to the end of 2008 and race podiums from 2009 onwards, making for a remarkable career percentage of 52.60%.
That number only improves when looking at each race from the past decade: Whincup has finished inside the top three in almost six out of every 10 races in the last 10 years.
He’s one of just three drivers — Winterbottom and Lowndes are the other two — to have cracked a century of top-three finishes in that period.
Top 10 ‘podium’ finishers in the last decade
184 — Whincup
122 — Winterbottom
114 — Lowndes
78 — van Gisbergen
75 — Tander
53 — Courtney
52 — Davison
42 — McLaughlin, Coulthard
37 — Mostert