On the eve of the biggest race meet of his life, Mark Winterbottom says the long wait to a maiden V8 Supercars title isn’t doing his head in.
‘Frosty’ has led the championship since May and rolls into Sydney as the favourite to claim the biggest prize in Australian motorsport.
His sole challenger is Craig Lowndes, who like Winterbottom has been a ‘nearly man’ of the series for more than a decade.
The Prodrive Racing man has taken fewer risks as the season-ending meet draws closer in a strategic move to sure up his title hopes.
It’s meant Lowndes edging closer in the standings at every race meet since Sandown.
As the lead shrinks, the pit-lane talk grows.
“People say you’re fading,” Winterbottom said.
“You cop this and that and whatever.
“Everyone’s got an opinion, that’s part of the life.
“Deep down you know that you’re doing what needs to be done.”
At Homebush, 14th place in each of the three races will seal the championship.
Winterbottom could go one better and win it on Saturday by maintaining a lead of more than 150 over Lowndes.
That’s the maths, but it’s not Winterbottom’s strategy in Sydney.
He says the safest way to victory is also the fastest way.
“You just have to go for it,” he said.
“The safest way would be to qualify pole and drive away.
“That’s got to be the mindset; make the car as quick as possible. Easy to drive. Get up the front.”
The 34-year-old heads to Sydney on Wednesday to prepare for his home-town race.
Winterbottom spent his first 21 years in Western Sydney and says he will have plenty of family and friends on hand to celebrate should he claim the crown.
Knowing the mayhem that street circuits can bring, no one will be crowing until the numbers add up.
“At the moment it’s all just words and fluff,” he said.
“Sydney can be the round that can bring disaster.
“He needs to win every race and we know what we need to do.
“So I feel confident, not cocky, but confident.”