Mark Winterbottom's hopes of a V8 Supercars Championship may have faded for another year but not his intent to torment Red Bull Racing at the season-ending Sydney NRMA 500.
Winterbottom widened the gap between his second and the third place of Craig Lowndes at the Plus Fitness Phillip Island 400 today in a grandstand finish won by Scott McLaughlin in his Volvo.
McLaughlin scored his fourth win of the year when he flew past Holden's Garth Tander in the last 100m on the main straight, stealing a win that should not have been his.
Tander had run out of fuel in the final corners after a 20-lap fight with McLaughlin that he managed not quite to the death. Winterbottom finished third behind them, importantly seven places ahead of Lowndes in their fight for second to Champion elect Jamie Whincup.
Winterbottom made it clear he hopes to wedge himself between the Red Bull pair as a nuisance factor in his home Sydney race at Olympic Park in the first week in December (5-7).
"I'd rather be going for the (Championship) win," Winterbottom said.
"That's the best we could do today. It feels like a mini victory when you get the most out of it. It's a good result for the guys. It has been tough, no question.
"We want to fight for second. We can probably annoy Triple Eight (Whincup and Lowndes) if we can get in the middle of them, we will do our best."
McLaughlin did to Tander what Chaz Mostert did to Whincup at Bathurst last month by claiming the win with the line in sight. He still found it hard to fathom that he won.
"That is sick. I feel sorry for Garth but I'm pretty ecstatic. It was so cool, I couldn't believe it," the easy-going young Kiwi said.
"They said to me about five laps to go keep the pressure on, he is tight on fuel. Then I made a bit of a blue and lost some time letting him get away," said McLaughlin.
"In some ways I was lucky but my car was great the whole time. Sometimes it happens ... I've been out of luck as well."
Tander was surprisingly upbeat despite not being able to add to his impressive list of wins in V8 Supercars at a track he has had great success, including the 2007 Championship.
"That's the way the cookie crumbles. I've won a lot of fuel races over the years and lost a few," said Tander. "The boys told me it was really tight on the last lap and it was just that 100m short of the line. It's not the end of the world."
Champion-in-waiting Whincup came home fourth, with Shane van Gisbergen, Will Davison, Jason Bright, Nick Percat, Michael Caruso and Craig Lowndes finishing the top 10.
Others to note include Tander's HRT teammate James Courtney 13, Fabian Coulthard 16 and Chaz Mostert 17 after the FPR Falcon had to stop a third time after a refuelling issue.
The V8 Supercars will race next at grand final the Sydney NRMA 500 from December 5-7, with Marcos Ambrose in the field as a wild card entry.