Lowndes primed to win Newcastle 500
ALL-conquering co-driver Steven Richards has predicted a fairytale finish for Holden great Craig Lowndes in the Newcastle 500 next month.
Fresh from claiming the Endurance Cup' title alongside Lowndes, Richards declared his Triple Eight Race Engineering teammate would finish his stellar full-time career with a win at the Newcastle race.
"I absolutely think he can win in Newcastle,'' Richards said.
"He has the car to do it. Over the duration of the Endurance Cup campaign the team has been continually seeking a new direction and it is getting better and better.''
Richards, who conquered Mount Panorama to help Lowndes to his seventh Bathurst crown, said his fellow veteran was still at the peak of his powers.
"He is driving as well as he ever has,'' Richards said.
"His error rate is so low compared to other drivers. He has a lot of confidence with the car under him at the moment.
"He also has a lot of trust with the guys in his garage and he has been working with them a long time to build that. It is all two years in the making and it is a shame in a lot of ways that he is retiring.
"He has a great group of guys around him and they are going from strength to strength and gaining confidence with every race.''
Richards said Lowndes could continue as a full-time driver - but added that his decision to retire at the end of the year would see him go out on top.
"There is never a good time to retire,'' Richards said.
"You never think the end is coming. But if it is coming it is best to go out on a high.
"This year couldn't have worked out better. Since he made the decision in Townsville, he has performed well. There has been no pressure and he has been enjoying the fans and driving his car.
"He has driven the best he has ever driven and that is a great way to finish up his full-time career. He goes into next year in a good position. He will pair up in a car capable of winning all three events so he will go on doing his thing.''
Richards is backing Lowndes to win his final full-time race - the Newcastle 500.
"When you are driving like he is and you have those guys behind you, you can pull off some pretty incredible things,'' Richards said.
"I really think Craig is in contention for the rest of the year, not just Newcastle. It is looking really good for him.
"The team are looking at the main objective of winning the championship. But I am sure they are also hopeful of sending Craig out on a good note. The team is very strong going into these last couple of rounds with three very good cars.
"They are trying to defend a title and also get some very good results.''
Richards is on the hunt for a new endurance partner with Lowndes likely to link with Jamie Whincup next year.
"I love these events,'' Richards said.
"There are still a lot of things to play out but the best thing for me is we have just come off winning the Endurance Cup so that holds me in good stead.''
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