Like a cricketer stuck on 99 overnight, the last five weeks have been a nervous wait for V8 Supercars great Craig Lowndes.
The Holden ace has been stuck on 99 race wins for his V8s career following the last event in Tasmania over a month ago.
Lowndes won two of the three races at Symmons Plains but a sixth-place finish in the Sunday race denied him the milestone and left him sitting third in the title race, a mere 23 points off leader and teammate Jamie Whincup.
The odds on Lowndes becoming the first driver to secure 100 V8 wins at some point over this weekend seem high with the 40-year-old having won 15 races at Barbagallo in Perth, more than any location in his storied career.
“We had good car speed in Tassie and were probably really disappointed with the way I attacked Sunday’s race, which unfortunately threw it away,” Lowndes told AAP.
“We’ve had good results here so I’d like to the get the hundred, which I think would be fitting.
“We managed to break Skaife’s (all-time V8 race wins) record here and at the same track, it’d be nice to break into that 100.”
After a hat-trick of pole positions in Tasmania, Lowndes heads west aiming to become just the second driver in 17 years to claim four consecutive poles.
The last man to do that was Ford’s Mark Winterbottom in 2011, and if Lowndes achieves the feat he’ll join legends such as Peter Brock, Allan Moffatt, Dick Johnson and Mark Skaife in the four straight club.
With lap times under a minute on the 2.42km circuit, qualifying position appears crucial with 70.5 per cent of race winners at the location in championship history coming from the front two spots on the grid.
But Lowndes disagrees and says it is your car’s balance and tyre wear which is the most crucial element.
“Because of the texture of the surface, we chew into the tyre very quickly,” he said.
“It really does also mean not only do you have to qualify well, you’ve got to have a car that looks after its tyres extremely well. That’s more important than qualifying.
“You need a good, balanced car, not necessarily the fastest car but the most consistent car over the laps we race on because it really is a tough track. It’s like being on an ice skating rink at the end of it.”
The Perth SuperSprint begins on Friday with practice before two 25-lap races on Saturday and a 83-lap race on Sunday.
HEADING WEST FOR V8 SUPERCARS CENTURY
Craig Lowndes V8 Supercars career
Race starts: 551
Race wins: 99 (2 in 2015)
Championships: 3 (1996, 98, 99)
Bathurst 1000 wins: 5 (1996. 2006-08, 2010)
Perth race wins: 15
Perth pole positions: 6
* Lowndes has swept the field in Perth on four occasions, winning all three races at the event in 1996 and then for three years running from 1998 to 2000.
MOST V8 SUPERCARS WINS
1. Craig Lowndes 99 (1996, 1998-2015)
2. Jamie Whincup 91 (2002-2015)
3. Mark Skaife 90 (1987-2011)
4. Garth Tander 53 (1998-2015)
5. Peter Brock 48 (1973-1997, 2002, 2004)
6. Glenn Seton 40 (1984, 1986-2008, 2010)
7. Allan Moffat 36 (1965, 1970-1979, 1982-1984, 1988-1989)
8. John Bowe 31 (1986-2007)
9. Dick Johnson 30 (1970-2000)
10. Marcos Ambrose 28 (2001-2005, 2014-2015), Greg Murphy 28 (1997-2014).