Cracked ribs he suffered during last year’s Sydney 500 give Craig Lowndes belief that he can cause a massive boilover at this weekend’s V8 Supercars finale.
The veteran Red Bull Racing driver must win all three races on the Olympic Park street circuit if he is to have a chance of overhauling Mark Winterbottom’s 179-point lead to claim his fourth title and first since 1999.
Having crunched the numbers, second-placed Lowndes takes confidence from the fact he’s still a mathematical possibility of denying Winterbottom a maiden championship and relishes the chance to pull off the improbable.
He must reduce the deficit to 150 points after Saturday’s two sprint races going into Sunday’s 250km finale.
It’s a very tall order, especially as Winterbottom can take the crown just by finishing 14th or better in each race.
But the tight street circuit is prone to carnage – something Lowndes is acutely aware of after crashing during last year’s edition, leaving him with two cracked ribs.
Lowndes said having felt the wrath of the track, he’s keenly aware anything can happen.
“We talk about the Gold Coast (street circuit), if you come back with your side mirrors there you’re not trying hard enough,” Lowndes said.
“It’s that style of track.
“Last year we had a big off at turn five, cracked a couple of ribs and although we finished the weekend, we definitely weren’t performing at our best.
“If we can qualify well, that’s half the battle to stay out of trouble.”
With Jamie Whincup out of contention after claiming the last four straight titles, it’s left for Lowndes and Winterbottom to fight it out.
While it’s been 16 years since Lowndes stood at the top of the podium, he hasn’t been without success.
He’s hasn’t finished worse than fourth in the last 11 seasons and goes in with the confidence of having won two of the three races at Phillip Island a fortnight ago.
If he was to pull off an upset victory, it would go down as arguably his greatest triumph and he was embracing the pressure to succeed when he’s not expected.
“You talk about at the start of the year whether you want to win a championship or Bathurst – I’ve always said Bathurst. We’ve been able to achieve that this year,” Lowndes said.
“But the focus now has moved onto the championship.
“Since 1999 I haven’t won one but in the last 10 years I’ve either been second or fourth so we’ve always been up amongst the running of the championship I just haven’t been able to cross the line first.”