Jamie Whincup led home Craig Lowndes in a one-two for the Triple 8 Holden squad in the first race at Winton on Saturday to continue his march towards a fourth V8 Supercar title.
The race was dominated by tire strategy after the safety car appeared to allow the wreckage of an opening-lap shunt between Jason Bright, Rick Kelly and James Courtney to be cleared up.
The bunching up that took place looked set to hand James Moffat an unlikely win after the Dick Johnson Ford driver started the race on the softer of the two compounds of tire that must be used. But his pace slackened off after he switched to the harder rubber later in the race, and could not prevent Whincup coming through for his 12th win of the year.
Lowndes was over three seconds behind by the checkered flag with Lee Holdsworth stepping onto the podium for the first time since joining the Stone Brothers Ford team in third.
Polesitter Mark Winterbottom, who ran out of fuel on the final lap and lost a spot to Holdsworth, was fourth. He now trails Whincup by 326 points, meaning his rival is likely to be crowned champion on Sunday. Moffat was fifth.
Next up were Tim Slade, Jonathon Webb, Garth Tander, Michael Patrizi and Tony d'Alberto, who took only his second top-10 finish of the 2012 season.
Stone Brothers Ford driver Shane van Gisbergen retired early on, the Kiwi pushing Will Davison's FPR Falcon into Tim Blanchard and eliminating all three.