The Bathurst 1000 is demanding and leading the qualifying was Whincup followed by Winterbottom and Bright as they next take on the Top 10 shootout.
Jason Bright is hoping this is his year but the question still remains: who will beat Jamie Whincup?
Bright is having the best year of his career in years with the small Brad Jones Racing outfit that has always figured at the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 but have never finished on the top step.
Three times they have finished second - 1997, 2001 and 2009 - the last time when the late Jason Richards and Cam McConville teamed up for an amazing shot at glory when Richards almost ran down Garth Tander.
"Our race pace will be strong enough, going by the last two days, to be in the top three. It is a matter of keeping out of trouble and having a good car at the end of the day to have a charge in the last 60 laps which it seems to come down to every year," Bright said.
Bright has also been a key part of the resurgent Brad Jones Racing team with both he and teammate Fabian Coulthard enjoying wins in the Championship.
"I am happy where our strengths are and what that will mean for the race. We have a car that will be good in race pack. The car seems to be quick enough in one lap trim as well. We just need to get up there tomorrow and then have a good race.
"We have as good a chance as any other year, if not better. The speed the car has had this year, and tyres I think we can go into the race confident we can head for a podium but it's a long race and anything can happen to any of us."
Whincup yet again stands in everyone's way after qualifying today before the long, tense wait for tomorrow afternoon's ARMOR ALL Top Ten Shootout. He shut out Pepsi Max Crew FPRs Mark Winterbottom and Bright to claim provisional ARMOR ALL Pole Position.
The qualifying session is only a ticket into the shootout and not a guarantee of the elusive pole slot; and nor is starting on the front row and great advantage in one of the world's most epic races. Only 11 times has the pole sitter won the race.
Whincup again set the mark with a lap of 2:08.0054, just ahead of Winterbottom with Bright 0.2s further back.
Holden's James Courtney was fourth ahead of Kiwi Shane van Gisbergen and Whincup's teammate Craig Lowndes.
A key for Sunday's race will be the mandatory seven pit stops, one more than the Ford and Holden cars can manage, but to even up the race for the Nissan and Mercedes E63 AMG entries which have less fuel capacity.
"It's the fairest thing for us all to have the same number of stops," said Winterbottom. "It will make a difference when we work out the stints. There's a minimum 54 laps for the co-driver so that means three of the seven stints. That will mean some different strategies."
The Mercedes E63 AMG of Tim Slade did not make it on to the track today after yesterday's major off but are hopeful of a return tomorrow, while the Ford of Chaz Mostert also missed the qualifying session after an off in the morning practice.
Tomorrow is further practice in the morning ahead of the Top Ten Shootout in the late afternoon.