Scott McLaughlin feels he has a better understanding of the sideshow that accompanies heading to the Supercars season finale as a title contender than he did 12 months ago.
The Shell V-Power Racing driver holds a 14-point championship lead over Shane van Gisbergen, with only the Coates Hire Newcastle 500 on November 23-25 remaining.
McLaughlin started last year's showdown trailing Jamie Whincup by 30 points and got ahead by 78 on the Saturday, only to fall 21 short on a dramatic Sunday.
That was McLaughlin's first taste of fighting for a Supercars title, and the 25-year-old believes he has a better idea of what's to come this time around.
Asked how he feels looking ahead to Newcastle, McLaughlin said: "I'm [feeling] a bit of everything obviously. It's a nerve wracking time for both of us.
"But at the end of the day I just try and use the experience I learned last year and the media commitments obviously are going to be high.
"We'll try and work that around. I sort of know what to expect, last year I went in a little bit shy and didn't know what was going to happen. Off track I understand [now].
"On-track it's just going to be the same. I just need to stick to the process and get on with it.
"I'm sure Shane's going to be right there, it's going to be like [at Pukekohe].
"So if we finish kind of where we are, at the end of the day we've got two races, I've just got to beat him twice."
McLaughlin and van Gisbergen navigated a high-drama home event in New Zealand, taking a first and a second each to leave the points gap unchanged.
In the maiden Newcastle event last November, McLaughlin started from pole each day and led a Shell Ford one-two on the Saturday, as Whincup and van Gisbergen hit trouble.
He led van Gisbergen on the Sunday until picking up a controversial penalty for pitlane speeding, then two more sanctions for on-track incidents as he tried to recover.
On street circuits this year, McLaughlin has a best result of third three times – to van Gisbergen's three wins – and was buoyed by fresh developments at the Gold Coast.
"I know that I've got a fast car but that was last year. This year's another year," he said.
"I feel like we're going to go there with a pretty strong car.
"We went to Gold Coast and I felt like we were stronger so I'm looking forward to going back on the super-soft [tyre] and having a crack at Newcastle, which is another street circuit.
"Our car again is so much better over the kerbs and the bumps. I'm really pumped for it."
McLaughlin's lead-up to Newcastle has included testing his team's new Ford Mustang, with running at Queensland Raceway and Phillip Island over the last week.