Even runner-up Jamie Whincup couldn’t begrudge Scott Pye an emotional maiden Supercars race win on the Holden journeyman’s 165th attempt.
The seven-time series champion admitted he “would have felt guilty” if he had pounced on a late error by Pye and snatched victory in race three of the Australian Grand Prix support event at Melbourne on Saturday.
Six years after his first Supercars race, Pye’s long wait to stand on top of the podium appeared over with victory in sight with just over two of the race’s 25 laps left.
Then disaster looked to have struck.
Pye lost a three second lead over Whincup when he locked up his brakes on turn 13 and went off track in what appeared to be a golden chance for the Holden star to overtake.
However Pye regained composure and held out Whincup’s challenge to claim line honours by 0.2612 of a second.
“He ran wide at the end of the back straight and, to be honest, I was actually hoping he got away with it because I would’ve felt a bit guilty, me grabbing that (late lead),” Whincup told Supercars.com.
“He made a mistake but defended well so there was just no opportunity to pass.
“If there was an opportunity, I would’ve taken it but he drove well.”
Instead of Whincup grabbing his 110th career win, Pye notched a long awaited No.1.
It was also the first win for Pye’s Walkinshaw Andretti United team.
Pye certainly earned it.
He held his nerve when his team opted not to follow some of the field’s lead and pit for wet tyres when the heavens opened at Albert Park with nine laps left.
Then Whincup loomed large in his rearview mirror after his late error.
Pye, 28, revealed he had more pressing concerns as the twilight race finished in darkness following the late storm.
He was being blinded by his dashboard lights in the gloomy conditions and had no idea how to lower the brightness.
“It was dark but my biggest problem was that I couldn’t remember which button turned my dash down so the lights on my dash were on full brightness,” Pye told speedcafe.com.
“If you can imagine a car driving towards you with their headlights on, that’s what it was like.
“I wanted to ask (engineer Rob Starr) which button but there was enough going on so I just kept my eyes forward … and just pressed on.”
Whincup won Saturday’s earlier 13-lap race, his first of 2018.
The Supercars round concludes with a 13-lap event from 1345 AEDT on Sunday ahead of the Formula One Australian Grand Prix.