Zak Best has left an impression on championship leaders Shane van Gisbergen and Cam Waters.
Best held van Gisbergen and Waters at bay in the early stages of Race 21.
Van Gisbergen later got past and won the race, with Best finishing fifth.
It came after the 20-year-old scored a shock ARMOR ALL Pole Position.
Best’s second wildcard start for Tickford proved to van Gisbergen that the Benalla driver has a bright future.
It comes as Best looks to secure a 2023 seat, with the likes of PremiAir Racing and Blanchard Racing Team yet to confirm their rosters.
“He drove really well,” van Gisbergen said of the young Victorian.
“You could tell he was looking around a lot in the mirrors, it was a big moment for him.
“He nailed the start and got away, and was driving really well.
“It was good to race with him. When I got past him, he was clean and aware of where I was.
“He’s doing a really good job.”
Best held his own in his first attempt at racing the big names at the front.
Such was Best’s pace, that van Gisbergen was forced to take a risk to get past.
However, the points leader was impressed by Best’s racecraft in the high-pressure moment.
'He doesn’t care about my championship'
“You have to think about it more; you don’t know the guy,” van Gisbergen said.
“He doesn’t care about my championship, he’s the star of the day.
“I took a bit of caution; I got stuck and I had to pull a pretty risky move to get past.
“When he did see I was going for that pass, he was aware and gave me a lot of space and stopped a crash.
“He’s pretty good, and I'm sure he’ll go pretty good in the future."
Tickford stablemate Waters kept a watching brief in the battle in third.
Waters saw firsthand how Best was able to "put all the haters to ease” after tyre batch chatter with solid pace on Sunday.
'I had to pull a pretty risky move to get past'
Best qualified seventh for the finale, but was forced to retire due to a wiper motor failure.
Regardless, Waters liked what he saw in his young teammate, especially after Best was beaten around in Darwin.
“Obviously there was the tyre batch debate… he bounced back and qualified seventh,” Waters said.
“It kind of put all the haters to ease. That was cool for him.
“He learnt quite a lot from Darwin to this weekend.
“He really stepped up and did an amazing job, not just him but the whole wildcard crew at Tickford.”
Best will race with Thomas Randle at October’s Repco Bathurst 1000.
The 2022 season will resume at Sandown on August 19-21. Purchase your tickets now.