James Courtney has emphasised his relief after securing the 2010 V8 Supercar Championship crown in today's Sydney Telstra 500.
The Jim Beam Racing driver wrapped up the title with a 14th place finish in a race largely determined by fuel strategy.
Courtney, who had led the points score since taking a double victory at Winton in May, also expressed his disbelief at the number of obstacles that had to be overcome on the streets of Homebush before lifting the crown.
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“I'm relieved,” said a visible exhausted Courtney at the post-race press conference.
“There's no way it's sunk in yet – it's more relief at the moment.
“I can't thank my guys enough for the job that they did yesterday, and today. We had a (wheel) gun or something break in the pitstop and couldn't change the right rear, then we had to come in and have another stop.
“I didn't think the year was ever going to end, it just kept going and going with dramas and twists and turns. I'm just unbelievably relieved that it's over actually.
“It's great to be the guy who, when it all washes up, got the most points during the year.”
While a mid-season team ownership dispute threatened to derail Courtney's championship quest, the 30 year old said the team's off-track troubles made the win even sweeter.
“It's probably made this championship even more emotional with all that stuff going on,” he said.
“We've got a tight bunch of guys, we all kept our heads down and in the end we did it. It's great that a family team can still topple the giants.”
Despite ending today's final race with a crumpled bonnet after late-race contact with the back of Michael Caruso's Fujitsu Commodore, Courtney insisted he was driving conservatively.
“I was just cruising and trying to keep out of everyone's trouble and it just kept happening around me,” he said.
“It actually felt harder to just roll around and stay out of trouble than actually racing.
“When you're racing you're focussed 100% the whole time. When you're not pushing as hard you start to think about what's going on and where Jamie is – your concentration goes away.
“With the championship on the line, it was a pretty crazy event.”