Series leader Jamie Whincup has claimed today's race win at Winton Motor Raceway, and has all but sealed the 2012 driver's title.
He now leads the series from nearest rival Mark Winterbottom by an almost unassailable 326 points.
"It was a tough race strategy-wise, everyone was going everywhere at the start," said Whincup.
"Halfway through the race I asked for an update as to what was going on because I had no idea, I just had my head down and was pushing hard.
Every point is vital now.
"It all worked itself out and we were able to bring it home. Every point is vital now."
Whincup scored his 12th race win of the season today, finishing ahead of his teammate Craig Lowndes, who stormed from 15th on the grid to make it another TeamVodafone 1-2.
"That soft and hard tyre combination really works well for us," said Lowndes.
"We basically duplicated what we did at Darwin ... we qualified poorly but we raced well. Hopefully tomorrow we can start a bit further up!"
In a thrilling race to the finish, Lee Holdsworth pipped FPR's Winterbottom on the line to take third place - his first podium for Stone Brothers Racing this year.
"I knew Winterbottom was saving fuel so I was trying to get close enough in the braking zones," said Holdsworth.
"As I came out of the last corner I got a bit of a side draft and got beside him for the last podium spot. I'm stoked, we've been waiting for a podium all year!"
Team Norton DJR driver James Moffat made the most of his start on soft tyres and led the bulk of the race. He was unable, though, to hold out the late charges from the soft tyre shod cars and finished a credible 5th.
Lucky 7 Racing's Tim Slade placed sixth, with Jonathon Webb, Garth Tander, Michael Patrizi and Tony D'Alberto rounding out the top ten.
A safety car intervened on the opening lap, when Jason Bright made contact with Holdsworth and Moffat and slid into the sandtrap.
Michael Caruso and James Courtney were also casualties in the opening lap melee. Courtney battled on with steering damage and Caruso did not finish.
Other casualties included Shane van Gisbergen and Will Davison, who were involved in an incident that included Jack Daniel's racer Tim Blanchard.
Both cars were eventually forced out of the race, with van Gisbergen apologising to the FPR driver.
Tomorrow involves a longer 67-lap race, with Qualifying starting at 1.00pm AEDST.
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