V8 Supercars championship leader Jamie Whincup has all but secured his fourth title after winning the opening race at Winton Motor Raceway on Saturday.
Whincup took his 12th chequered flag of the season ahead of TeamVodafone colleague Craig Lowndes, who surged from 15th on the grid to claim second place.
Stone Brothers Racing driver Lee Holdsworth was third after pipping Ford Performance Racing's Mark Winterbottom in a thrilling finish at the rural Victorian circuit.
Whincup, who won the title in 2008, 2009 and 2011, leads Winterbottom by an almost unassailable 326 points in the championship standings with one race to go at Winton before the season finale in Sydney.
"It was a tough race strategy-wise, everyone was going everywhere at the start," Whincup said.
"Halfway through the race I asked for an update as to what was going on because I had no idea, I just had my head down and was pushing hard.
"It all worked itself out and we were able to bring it home. Every point is vital now."
Team Norton DJR's James Moffat led the majority of the race but was unable to hold on for the victory and finished in fifth place.
Lucky 7 Racing's Tim Slade was sixth, followed by Tekno Autosports' Jonathon Webb and Holden Racing Team's Garth Tander.
Tekno Autosports' Michael Patrizi and Team Hiflex's Tony D'Alberto rounded out the top 10.
The V8 Supercars return to the track on Sunday for qualifying before the second race of the weekend.