Shane van Gisbergen fought back from an early drive-through penalty to secure his maiden Supercars Championship title in Race 28 in Sydney.
While team-mate and title rival Jamie Whincup won the race in dominant fashion, a third place finish for Van Gisbergen was enough to put the championship beyond doubt.
Drama for the Kiwi began with a poor start from pole position that saw the #97 Holden shuffled back to sixth through the opening corners.
An attempted pass on Mark Winterbottom nine laps later then left Van Gisbergen in serious trouble as he tagged The Bottle-O Ford into a spin.
A subsequent drive-through penalty buried Van Gisbergen in the pack, seemingly prolonging the title decider until Sunday.
A Safety Car to recover the stranded Nissan of Dale Wood on lap 50 of 74, however, put Van Gisbergen back in contention for the top five finish he needed.
Restarting ninth with 20 laps to go, Van Gisbergen picked his way through Will Davison, Rick Kelly, Todd Kelly and Craig Lowndes to finally put himself in a title winning position 10 laps from home.
He didn’t stop there, however, overtaking Scott McLaughlin for fourth before attacking third placed James Courtney, who aggressively defended his position.
After an intense battle, Van Gisbergen finally cleared Courtney at the start of the final lap, leaving him to secure the title in style with a podium finish.
“It’s a pretty amazing feeling,” he said.
“I’m sorry to Mark, I went up the inside and didn’t commit.
“As soon as I went up the inside I thought ‘you pussy’, I didn’t go in hard enough.
“It was his right to turn in, my fault, but I had an awesome car to come through like that.
“We had a lucky Safety Car but that’s racing… what an amazing year.”
Garth Tander meanwhile used a strong mix of speed and strategy to take second in his penultimate start for the Holden Racing Team.
Tander and Courtney had both jumped McLaughlin and Craig Lowndes in the second round of stops to set up what looked liked being a double HRT podium.
Courtney fell from third to fifth on the final lap, with Van Gisbergen and McLaughlin both sneaking by when Courtney ran deep into Turn 1.
Lowndes also had a poor final few laps, slipping behind Rick Kelly and Will Davison to finish just eighth.
Tim Slade and David Reynolds completed the top 10, with the latter coming from the back of the grid after a penalty for breaching post-qualifying parc ferme conditions.
A dismal day for the Ford runners saw 11th placed Fabian Coulthard as the top Falcon driver.
Todd Kelly was 12th after understeering into the Turn 11 tyre wall as Van Gisbergen made his way through 10 laps from home.
Winterbottom lost five laps due to damage from his early incident with Van Gisbergen, eventually finishing 23rd.
Result: Virgin Australia Supercars Championship Coates Hire Sydney 500 Race 28
|1||Red Bull Racing Australia||Jamie Whincup||Holden Commodore VF||74||01:55:51.3313|
|2||Holden Racing Team||Garth Tander||Holden Commodore VF||74||01:55:58.1706|
|3||Red Bull Racing Australia||Shane Van Gisbergen||Holden Commodore VF||74||01:56:01.1655|
|4||Wilson Security Racing GRM||Scott McLaughlin||Volvo S60||74||01:56:01.7213|
|5||Holden Racing Team||James Courtney||Holden Commodore VF||74||01:56:02.1660|
|6||Sengled Motorsport||Rick Kelly||Nissan Altima||74||01:56:08.6952|
|7||Team Darrell Lea STIX||Will Davison||Holden Commodore VF||74||01:56:09.2880|
|8||TeamVortex||Craig Lowndes||Holden Commodore VF||74||01:56:14.6480|
|9||Freightliner Racing||Tim Slade||Holden Commodore VF||74||01:56:16.3648|
|10||Erebus Motorsport Penrite||David Reynolds||Holden Commodore VF||74||01:56:17.9295|
|11||DJR Team Penske||Fabian Coulthard||Ford Falcon FG/X||74||01:56:19.2175|
|12||carsales Racing||Todd Kelly||Nissan Altima||74||01:56:22.9172|
|13||Nissan Motorsport||Michael Caruso||Nissan Altima||74||01:56:24.1180|
|14||DJR Team Penske||Scott Pye||Ford Falcon FG/X||74||01:56:25.2267|
|15||Repair Management Aust Racing||Nick Percat||Holden Commodore VF||74||01:56:25.9923|
|16||Preston Hire Racing||Lee Holdsworth||Holden Commodore VF||74||01:56:27.4555|
|17||Supercheap Auto Racing||Chaz Mostert||Ford Falcon FG/X||74||01:56:28.3506|
|18||Team BOC||Jason Bright||Holden Commodore VF||74||01:56:29.3656|
|19||Team Cooldrive||Tim Blanchard||Holden Commodore VF||74||01:56:30.7919|
|20||Plus Fitness Racing||Andre Heimgartner||Holden Commodore VF||74||01:56:31.5793|
|21||Monster Energy Racing||Cameron Waters||Ford Falcon FG/X||74||01:56:37.5259|
|22||Erebus Motorsport||Shae Davies||Holden Commodore VF||71||01:57:20.1338|
|23||The Bottle-O Racing Team||Mark Winterbottom||Ford Falcon FG/X||69||01:57:06.7239|
|24||Wilson Security Racing GRM||James Moffat||Volvo S60||65||01:56:49.2223|
|DNF||GB Galvanizing Racing||Dale Wood||Nissan Altima||48||01:13:51.3286|
|DNF||Super Black Racing||Chris Pither||Ford Falcon FG/X||1||2:20.6410|
|1||Shane van Gisbergen||3218|
|46||Jack Le Brocq||303|
|49||Chris van der Drift||234|
|53||Simona de Silvestro||126|