Chaz Mostert’s first Walkinshaw Andretti United weekend in blue came with a bright spark for Ford in Newcastle.
Mostert finished second behind Shane van Gisbergen in Sunday’s tense Thrifty Newcastle 500 finale.
It came after Mostert was classified second in Saturday’s race after both Red Bull Ampol Camaros were disqualified.
Chevrolet crossed the line first on both days, but Ford had the last laugh after two gruelling races on the Newcastle streets.
Mostert — in his first weekend racing Mustangs since 2019 — became the first Ford driver to lead the championship at the end of a weekend since 2020.
The last time a Ford driver ended on top of the standings come Sunday evening was Scott McLaughlin.
McLaughlin was officially crowned champion in 2020 after that year’s Bathurst 1000 — 875 days ago.
The 2021 and 2022 seasons were controlled by eventual champion van Gisbergen aboard his Holden Commodore.
Mostert seized the 2022 points lead after winning Race 2 in Sydney, but eventually settled for third overall.
For the second year in a row, Mostert leaves Round 1 as points leader — but raced a WAU Commodore last year.
His points lead lasted just once race in 2022, however, after he was caught up in an incident in Tasmania.
It’s just the second time that Mostert has led the championship, and it comes on a weekend the 30-year-old went winless.
Mostert led the balance of Sunday’s race until he was overhauled by van Gisbergen in the closing laps.
Van Gisbergen’s Saturday disqualification will be appealed by Triple Eight — but for now, Mostert is top of the championship tree.
When asked if the points lead changes his mindset, Mostert said: "Not really, I was in the championship lead last year. Then first race, that was it, I never saw it again.
"I've got so much focus on the car after this weekend that it doesn't mean too much.
"I'm super grateful we had too good races, good amount of points and a straight car."
Erebus Motorsport, meanwhile, leads the teams’ championship, with Brodie Kostecki second in the points.
Kostecki was promoted to the Saturday podium after both Red Bull Ampol Camaros were rubbed out of the results.
Cam Waters — Saturday’s winner — entered Sunday as the points leader, but clouted the Turn 9 wall chasing Mostert in Race 2.
The Tickford Racing driver was the first Ford driver since McLaughlin to lead the points, but 12th on Sunday consigned him to third overall.
Van Gisbergen is 11th overall, 126 points behind Mostert.
The 2023 Repco Supercars Championship will resume at the Beaurepaires Melbourne SuperSprint on March 30-April 2.