Red Bull Holden driver Jamie Whincup admits he's unable to match the pace of Scott McLaughlin and the Shell V-Power Racing Team at this stage of the season.
Whincup led the early stages of Saturday's race at the Watpac Townsville 400 before McLaughlin found his way through at the final corner on lap two.
While Whincup gave McLaughlin plenty of room to complete the move, the six-time champion admitted he was powerless to stop the Kiwi before finishing second overall.
"That’s as hard as I could fight. I was pushing hard but the car wasn’t as quick as #17," he said after the race.
"I blocked a few times and any more you’re taking the piss.
"I pushed hard and raced hard and gave ourselves the opportunity, but it’s the same old story as Darwin.
"We just didn’t have enough pace, the quickest car won.
"We’re clawing away which is a good thing."
Whincup's result continues his impressive stretch of podium finishes in 2017, as he sits only 18 points behind McLaughlin in the championship despite not winning a race this season.
The Holden driver scored his eighth podium in a points race this season but admits not winning a race is a figure he is not comfortable with.
"It’s two-fold, you’re obviously happy with the podium," he added.
"You can never be disappointed with that.
"But this part of the year is about winning races and we haven’t won any so I’m disappointed about that.
"We’ll keep doing what we’ve always done year after year; keep our head down and keep chipping away and keep trying to stay on the improve.
"So far we’re on track. We’ve just got to keep our heads down."
Team-mate Shane van Gisbergen was left to bemoan what could have been after a broken header ruined a probable fourth place finish to end up in seventh.
"In the race I got a shitty start again. I don’t know why, I don’t know what’s going on there, it’s just my biggest struggle," he said.
"Then I got going good and the gap sort of stayed the same to the leader.
"If we’d started good, we would have been okay. And then the header broke at the end. I got it to the finish, but slowly.
"I could sort of manage it at the start and it would actually run okay, but then it got really bad and we were using more fuel, so I had to save a lot fuel while being really slow down the straights.
"I tried to keep people behind, but there was really no chance. I ended up seventh, which is still okay for a bad day."