David Reynolds has secured pole for Race 31 at the Coates Hire Newcastle 500 while Scott McLaughlin denied championship rival Shane van Gisbergen a front row start.
Reynolds rose from a provisional third after qualifying to snatch Armor All Pole Position by just 0.0206s from McLaughlin, with van Gisbergen another 0.2094s slower in third.
The Erebus driver almost skated the #9 Penrite ZB Commodore into the wall at Turn 12 but still went to the top by 0.3092s at the time with a 1:10.5470s.
Van Gisbergen was next out and temporarily slotted into second in the #97 Red Bull HRT ZB Commodore, but it wasn’t enough to stay on the front row.
Provisional pole man McLaughlin (#17 Shell V-Power FGX Falcon) all but level-pegged with Reynolds throughout the 2.652km lap of the Newcastle East Street Circuit and came up just short in the end.
Should the race end the same way as it will start, however, the 25-year-old New Zealander would win the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship given he need only finish Race 31 in sixth position regardless of what van Gisbergen does.
“Told everyone I was going to give it all I had and that’s all I had,” said Reynolds.
“Really, really happy, car was working beautifully; it was just that stuff (oil soak) at Turn 1 that was putting me off but I seemed to get around it okay.
“Every time you get pole it’s one of the best. This is a good one; finish the year on a high. We’ve got a good, strong starting spot for the race so looking forward to it; not 95 laps, but I’m looking forward to the race.
“Couldn’t care less (about title fight). It’s all about trying to win today and give the boys a reward going into Christmas.”
DJR Team Penske managing director Ryan Story was in a confident mood on behalf of McLaughlin and the team.
“We’ve got a plan for today’s race, we know what we need to do to win the big trophy and that’s going to be our total and complete focus for this afternoon,” he said.
Story was also in a mischievous mood when asked about McLaughlin’s relationship with the pole-sitter.
“I think the more pertinent questions is what’s Davey Reynolds’ relationship with Shane van Gisbergen?” he quipped.
Garth Tander was arguably man of the match having laid down a 1:10.8562s, just inside two tenths of his provisional qualifying time, as the first driver on-track in the #33 Wilson Security ZB Commodore.
Not only did he do so on used tyres, he also experienced the worst of Turn 1, the exit of which had been covered with oil soak due to an incident in the preceding support category session.
“We changed the car for the race yesterday, we were miles behind, got steering damage and had to change the steering arm so we were miles behind,” recounted Tander.
“But for the last stint, we were tracking ourselves versus McLaughlin and van Gisbergen and our race pace was the same; felt like we had a strong car. Couple of very small changes overnight and we found ourselves in the Shootout.
“Pretty good lap, that’s the fastest I’ve ever been down past the beach there. We lost about a tenth and half with all that dirt leaving Turn 1, but we’ll take fourth for sure.”
The next six cars couldn’t better Tander but Lee Holdsworth, who provisionally qualified seventh, came up only 0.0134s short in the #18 Preston Hire ZB Commodore.
James Courtney (#25 Boost Mobile ZB Commodore) was 0.0662s slower again, while Jamie Whincup ended up seventh after dragging the #1 Triple Eight Race Engineering ZB Commodore along the tyre wall at Turn 1, and Tim Slade (#14 Freightliner ZB Commodore) was eighth.
Andre Heimgartner remained ninth after a wild moment through the Turn 10 sweep when he ran wide and picked up the left-front of the #7 Plus Fitness Nissan Altima.
Fabian Coulthard swapped positions with Tander, dropping from a provisional fourth to 10th position after locking the left-front of his #12 DJRTP FGX Falcon and running wide at Nobbys Hairpin.
The final race of the 2018 Virgin Australia Supercars Championship in Newcastle starts at 1540 local time/AEDT.
Results: Armor All Top 10 Shootout
|1||9||Erebus Penrite Racing||David Reynolds||Holden Commodore ZB||1:10.5470|
|2||17||Shell V-Power Racing Team||Scott McLaughlin||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:10.5676||0:00.0206|
|3||97||Red Bull Holden Racing Team||Shane van Gisbergen||Holden Commodore ZB||1:10.7770||0:00.2300|
|4||33||Wilson Security Racing GRM||Garth Tander||Holden Commodore ZB||1:10.8562||0:00.3092|
|5||18||Preston Hire Racing||Lee Holdsworth||Holden Commodore ZB||1:10.8696||0:00.3226|
|6||25||Mobil 1 Boost Mobile Racing||James Courtney||Holden Commodore ZB||1:10.9358||0:00.3888|
|7||1||Red Bull Holden Racing Team||Jamie Whincup||Holden Commodore ZB||1:10.9897||0:00.4427|
|8||14||Freightliner Racing||Tim Slade||Holden Commodore ZB||1:11.0330||0:00.4860|
|9||7||Plus Fitness Racing||Andre Heimgartner||Nissan Altima||1:11.2823||0:00.7353|
|10||12||Shell V-Power Racing Team||Fabian Coulthard||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:11.3670||0:00.8200|