It was an action-packed start to the co-driver qualifying race, but the steady hands of Paul Dumbrell kept it clean and took the win for car #1 and primary driver Jamie Whincup.
The grid for the Wilson Security Sandown 500 is determined by a unique format where co-drivers race to determine starting positions for a main driver 60km race, that locks in starting positions for tomorrow.
Dumbrell's efforts place Whincup on pole for his race later this afternoon, staying out of trouble and looking the goods for a three-peat at Sandown after wins in 2013 and '14.
It was a Prodrive Racing all front row for the race, but Holden Racing Team's Russell Ingall and Jonathon Webb seemed to get the killer starts, powering up the grid.
Young gun Cameron Waters led into turn one, but suffered from a big lock up at Dandenong Road, losing the lead to Steve Owen in the sister Pepsi car.
Dumbrell snuck through with the #5 and before too long took the lead - which he ultimately pushed out to 7.1sec.
Sebastien Bourdais got shuffled at turn one with contact from Webb, but the biggest incident was between Alex Premat and Andrew Jones.
While race control did not hand down a penalty, there was damage to car #8 forcing it to retire. Primary driver Jason Bright believes the team will repair the Commodore for his race this afternoon.
David Russell in the Jack Daniel's Nissan also retired with broken suspension.
With Owen, Waters, Dean Canto and Webb coming home behind Dumbrell, it sets the afternoon's second race up for a classic Holden versus Ford battle off the front row, with Whincup and Mark Winterbottom starting alongside one another.
Ingall managed to finish sixth, improving six positions, and Marcos Ambrose was home eighth after some involvement in the turn one push-and-shove.