Michael Caruso has declared he has no regrets about making the ill-fated passing move for the lead that ended both his and Scott McLaughlin's chances of winning a dramatic Race 24 of the V8 Supercars Championship at the Coates Hire Ipswich 400 this afternoon.
The factory Norton Nissan Altima driver plunged down the inside of the Volvo Polestar Racing S60 at Queensland Raceway's Turn 6 on lap 22, knocking McLaughlin into a spin and drawing a pitlane drive-through penalty from the stewards.
"No way I regret that (move)," he told v8supercars.com.au. "The day I regret having a go is the day I should stop racing.
"If I am going to start throwing away race results when I have a chance to win I think that's silly."
McLaughlin went on to finish 19th in the 100km race and Caruso 24th after they qualified first and second on the grid. Their incident allowed the closing Red Bull duo of Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes through for their second 1-2 finish of the day.
Caruso and McLaughlin are good mates off the track and it showed in their behaviour after the race. Anyone expecting angry words, some push and shove or NASCAR-style fisticuffs would have been disappointed.
An obviously upset Caruso went to the Nissan pit garage immediately after the race and apologised to McLaughlin, who later visited the Norton transporter to have a further discussion.
Caruso knocked back any requests for media interviews, including broadcaster Channel 7 until an hour after the race.
"I spoke to Scotty and there were no dramas. We are pretty good mates out of the car and he knew it wasn't intentional. After that I just wanted to cool down before everyone started hammering.
"The incident is what it is ... these things happen, this is motor racing, which is why we have such passionate fans which is why everyone loves watching it."
Caruso expressed his disappointment that the decision to black flag came so quickly after the incident.
"In the past they have obviously contemplated for extended periods of time and had a look at replays and what have you so I am not sure if they did that (this time)," he said.
"They have also handed out points penalties to podium placegetters in the past. But it is what it is."
Caruso had reeled in McLaughlin's lead of more than a second and had pressured the Volvo for some laps before making his move.
"I dived up the inside and obviously there was contact made, but from where I was sitting I thought I should have a go."
Caruso said he wasn't prompted to make his move by the closing Red Bull Holdens.
"I wasn't too concerned about them to be honest. I knew I had more pace than them and I knew at the same time they were in the championship so they are going to be a little more cautious in their assault for a position.
"I think they knew as well the speed we had, so they were in a position to sit there and wait."
Caruso's front row qualifying effort was the four car Nissan squad's best effort in the championship this year. The Altima has struggled for pace because of the widely-reported horsepower deficit of its VK556DE V8 engine and hasn't claimed a win since James Moffat broke through for the team at Winton last year.
Caruso has been the form driver of the Nissan squad in 2014. He sits highest in the points tally in 13th spot and has also claimed a pole position at the Australian grand prix, as he and engineer Steven Todkill have homed in on a good set-up.
The expectation of the Nissan squad had been low before the QR event, but the Altimas have proved quite strong here with Rick Kelly finishing fifth in Race 24. But the competitiveness of the grid and the vital importance of set-up was emphasised by Caruso's rise from 18th fastest in Race 23 to second in Race 24
"We haven't changed anything from last round to this round, it's just a matter of where the car is in terms of set-up in the zone and relative to the field it has got us to the front."
Caruso says he goes into Sunday 200km race 25 with confidence after the pace he displayed today.
"Tomorrow is a new day. The car was great today but I am sure everyone in the field will be working on their cars tonight and will be stronger tomorrow. We just have to make sure we are there."