Supercars title chaser Scott McLaughlin knows he has a massive opportunity to retake the championship lead in the Sandown 500.
But he also knows that having an opportunity to taking it are two very different things.
The Kiwi flyer will start from the second row in the 500km endurance classic on Sunday after falling on the right side of a major strategic call in qualifying.
With rain and even hail teeming down, his team chose to not to pit for wet tyres and reaped the benefits when the shower moved on just minutes later.
Title rival Shane van Gisbergen’s car No.97 went in to the pits, along with most of the field, where he was left stranded, double-stacked as he waited for his teammate to clear out.
Van Gibsergen will start on the sixth row as a result, giving McLaughlin a major chance to return to the top of the standings in Melbourne.
“At the moment it is an opportunity,” he said.
“Today really went well for us and didn’t go so well for them.
“It looks like he probably doesn’t have as much speed as car No.1 does.
“We’ve got try and do our best and execute tomorrow and we’ll worry about (the title standings) at the end.”
McLaughlin sits 19 points behind van Gisbergen as the series begins the three Endurance meets – the Sandown 500, Bathurst 1000 and the Gold Coast 600.
Whincup sits a further 343 points back but he too should close the gap on Sunday.
Together with co-driver Paul Dumbrell, the Red Bull Holden Racing Team ZB Commodore has resembled a rocket ship, lowering record lap times in Melbourne through practice and qualifying.
Their decision to go in for wet tyres cost them pole position, won by David Reynolds and Luke Youlden.
McLaughlin said the team would keep on working to find extra speed before the race kicks off at 1.20pm AEST.
“For us at the moment, yeah, (car speed) is an issue. I’m probably losing two car lengths,” he said.
“I’m losing time on both the cars I raced today – nine and one.
“We’ve been trying bits and pieces all weekend.”