His car will start from pole at the track where he’s won the last two races but Jamie Whincup doesn’t consider himself a favourite in Sunday’s Sandown 500.
It says a lot about the shift in power on the V8 Supercars tour that Whincup – who also has the past four championship trophies in his pool room – isn’t confident of claiming a record-breaking win.
This is the new Supercars age, where the Pepsi Max Crew of Mark Winterbottom and Chaz Mostert are king and the superior pace of the Falcon FG X makes one of the pair the champion-in-waiting.
Whincup said he acted like a road block to Winterbottom and Mostert on Saturday, doing enough to hold the quicker Fords at bay over 20 laps.
On Sunday afternoon, over 161 laps of the Melbourne circuit, Whincup said the game was likely to change.
“If we had the quickest car I’d feel a bit more confident,” he said.
“Along 500 kilometres, anything can happen and we’ll see some proper action.
“We’ve got some work to do and it’s anyone’s game tomorrow.”
Winterbottom’s car No.5 and Mostert’s car No.6 will start behind the Red Bull Racing No.1, with Shane Van Gisbergen and Jonathan Webb’s Holden filling out the second row of the grid.
It’s a different story for Craig Lowndes, who will start from the second-last row after a drive-through penalty for hitting Jack Perkins.
Team boss Roland Dane was unsympathetic, saying “if you do the crime, you do the time”.
Lowndes, whose championship hopes are likely to take a huge hit from the incident, blamed the move on a locked-up tyre.
“I think tomorrow is all about circulating for the first half of the race and staying out of trouble to see where we end up,” he said.