Jamie Whincup is in the box seat to add the inaugural Larry Perkins Trophy to his already-large array of Supercars silverware.
With a pair of second-place finishes and a victory in the first three legs of the Coates Hire Supercars Melbourne 400 at Albert Park, Whincup leads the points entering the 13-lap final.
Honouring ex-Formula 1 driver and six-time Bathurst 1000 winner Perkins, the new trophy marks the start of points-paying Supercars races at the Australian Grand Prix.
With 50 points on the line on Sunday, Pye and McLaughlin are the only possible challengers for the accolade, even if their chances require another victory and a Whincup DNF.
Larry Perkins with the new trophy
Seven-time Supercars champion Whincup has also won the Peter Brock Trophy four times at Bathurst and the Jason Richards Trophy twice, including the most-recent Pukekohe event last November.
The Red Bull Holden Racing Team driver will lead the field away on Sunday, with Pye to start fifth and McLaughlin ninth.
Behind McLaughlin in third, Fabian Coulthard, Nick Percat, Shane van Gisbergen and Tim Slade are all covered by just 17 points.
The Albert Park points system means only a points penalty would stop van Gisbergen heading to the next event at Symmons Plains without the Supercars championship lead.
With 50 points on offer in Sunday’s final sprint, van Gisbergen leads McLaughlin by 71, while Whincup has moved up from 18th to seventh - 128 adrift - in recent days.
This weekend's final race, the sixth of the 2018 Supercars season, starts at 1:45pm.
Larry Perkins Trophy points after three races
|6||Shane Van Gisbergen||164|
|18||Anton de Pasquale||86|
|22||Jack Le Brocq||69|
|26||Simona De Silvestro||11|