Jamie Whincup is hopeful hard work in testing will translate into crucial gains as Triple Eight continues to close the gap to the Shell V Power Racing Team at Sandown.
The six-time champion heads into the Wilson Security Sandown 500 trailing Scott McLaughlin by 12 points in the title race with 300 on offer this weekend.
In contrast to previous years, Triple Eight poured more focus on unearthing further improvements for its cars during its pre-enduro test at Queensland Raceway last week, as the championship enters an important phase.
Whincup feels his Commodore has undergone rapid improvement over the last four months, resulting in a car that cruised to victory in Race 18 last time out at Sydney Motorsport Park.
He is confident the team has made the most of its test heading into Sandown as the squad looks to further enhance its ultimate pace.
“Like all test days you get a lot of information which could lead to good or bad things, so it is just what you do with that information post test,” Whincup told Speedcafe.com.
“We have done a lot of homework since the test and if it turns out the way we think it will, then we should be better.
“I do feel like there has been some improvement. We have really improved the cars over the last three or four months and we have still got a fair way to go.
“I feel the best the car has been was at the last round so we are definitely on the improve, but I don’t know what is going to happen this weekend.
“We are not focused on those guys (DJR Team Penske) and we are just worrying about or own thing.
“Those guys are competitive and they will do a good job right up until the last race. We are on our A game and we have just got to challenge to them.”
After suffering a poor endurance campaign by his own high standards last year, that proved costly in the championship, Whincup is fully aware of the importance of this weekend’s 500km race.
Last year a pit stop error saw Whincup and co-driver Paul Dumbrell’s victory hopes fade into a 13th place finish.
“It is really important. They are big races with 300 points up from grabs so it can really change the championship in one day,” added Whincup.
“Nobody can afford any mistakes, that is the game.
“Last year we had a shocking season of endurance it really hurt my championship I think I was 100 points up and we came out 150 down.
“We just dumped so many points and that was the story of our year.
“If we are contention for those races then that is great, but we didn’t make any luck for ourselves last year.”
The Sandown 500 kicks off today with co-driver practice at 1115 AEST.