Russell Ingall said the Holden Racing Team could be confident going into the "big one" next month after its Sandown performance - the question is whether he will be aboard the #22 Commodore or not at the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000.
Ingall put in a stellar performance at the weekend's Wilson Security Sandown 500, completing a mammoth 75-lap co-driver stint and battling up from 24th to 10th.
'The Enforcer' was nabbed from the commentator's box just two weeks prior to replace an injured James Courtney.
Plenty of eyes were on Ingall as he returned from retirement, and the 2005 champ didn't disappoint, picking off six positions in the co-driver race and powering on in Sunday's 500, which he won with Jack's father Larry Perkins in 1998.
"Russell did a fantastic job all weekend - the first two stints he did in the race really set us up for a top 10 result, so I can't thank him enough," Perkins said on an HRT team video post-race.
"If James is not back for Bathurst mate, you will do!"
It was a tough battle for the pair after incidents throughout Saturday's qualifying, but a ninth place finish in a race that saw all four Walkinshaw Commodores in the top 10 was a strong result for the group that has been struggling for consistency.
"As a team I think we have come away with a fair bit as far as car speed and can feel a bit more confident going into the big one," Ingall said post-race.
He revealed that getting a good start was crucial to giving the team strategy options across the race - and he was able to tick that box, despite being out of a V8 Supercar since last December.
"It was really 'play it by ear' and do everything on the fly depending on how good a start I got," he said.
"If I got a good start they would leave me out longer and if I didn't we were going to pit on lap one. If that had have been the case it would have limited our options.
"It was good that I did get a good start and get in a reasonable position, then paced on from there."
While he had hoped he and Perkins would crack the podium, starting at the back of the order made it difficult - and ultimately the group's results were positive after some inconsistency in recent rounds.
"I don't think we could have done anything different or better, and it's a big effort for a team to have four cars in the top nine," Ingall said.
"There are not too many teams who could have done that."
Garth Tander and Warren Luff were the best placed of the WR Commodores in fourth, with Tim Slade and Tony D'Alberto sixth in the Supercheap car and Lee Holdsworth and Sebastien Bourdais seventh for Team 18.
Perkins believed the car was capable of finishing in the back half of the 10.
"We can't be disappointed with that, we knew we had a car that was capable of sixth to tenth at the start of the day," he said.
"To start in 24th we knew it was going to be hard to get there strategy wise. Russell did a great job and really set up the race for us, I can't thank him enough for that ... [these results] gives us good momentum into Bathurst."