Career pole for Caruso
Michael Caruso and Nissan scored their first front-row start since the return to V8 Supercars, continuing the climb up the rung for the factory based Altima outfit.
Caruso will start the first of four races at this weekend's Formula One Rolex Australian Grand Prix tomorrow alongside VIP Petfood's Shane Van Gisbergen with Adelaide hero Scott McLaughlin behind them in the Volvo S60.
McLaughlin starts alongside Champion Jamie Whincup, the man he sensationally beat for second on the final lap in race two in Adelaide to a heroes' reception.
Nissan, which won its first race at Winton last year through James Moffatt (Caruso was second) has had an aerodynamic reshape in the off-season which appears to be paying handsome dividends.
It was a strong result for Nissan, with three of the four in the top 10 - Todd Kelly fifth and Moffat eighth. Former V8 Supercar Champion Rick Kelly was back in 14th.
"We've been working pretty hard over the last few months to slowly work our way up the field," Caruso said after his first career pole.
"Since the introduction of Car of the Future the level of competition has narrowed a lot. On any given weekend, and we sort of saw it last year with a record number of winners, which just shows how competitive this category is.
"If you do a good job each weekend you could be anywhere between first and tenth. Don't get me wrong the person in tenth is still doing a bloody good job; it's just that close and the times are so close."
Craig Lowndes, last year's event winner Fabian Coulthard, Moffat, Jason Bright in a newly built Commodore after his spectacular Adelaide crash, and Garth Tander, complete the top 10.
Others to note include rookie Robert Dahlgren 11th in his Volvo S60, Chaz Mostert the first Ford in 12th, Will Davison in his Erebus AMG 13, Mark Winterbottom 18 and Clipsal 500 winner James Courtney 21st.
Caruso topped the final practice session before qualifying. Caruso was second in the earlier session, but jumped to the top of the times with a 1min56.2358, recording the fastest time recorded at that point in his Nissan Altima.
Tim Slade landed the first blow of the MSS Security V8 Supercars Challenge, topping the first 30-minute practice session of the event in his Supercheap Auto Commodore.
Slade beat Caruso - wearing a beyondblue livery this weekend - by just 0.07sec, recording a 1min57.349 lap around the 5.303km street circuit.