Ford Performance Racing has taken provisional pole for the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 after leading the way in Friday's 60 minute opening qualifying session.
Winterbottom posted a time of 2min 07.1920secs during the session, less than half a second outside the lap record, to put the #6 Falcon he will share with regular FPR team-mate Steven Richards at the head of the pile.
The quick lap came right at the end of the session and was the start of Winterbottom's quest to exorcise the demons of twelve months ago, when he was caught out by late rain shower when victory was almost in his grasp.
"I'm over what happened last year but back then it was burning pretty badly," he said. "There's highs and lows in motorsport but qualifying pole today is a high; I'm just lucky that Richo had me back as a team-mate!
"You have to respect this place. The first time you go out on greens it scares you but the more laps you do the better you get.
"Today, it was good to get the time right at the end and build the suspense a little bit! It was quite hard to do because I only had one last crack. The first two sectors weren't that special but I got a good last sector and got the time."
Winterbottom's lap was just 0.0413s quicker than Jason Richards, who had elected to head out on track early in the Sprint Gas Racing Commodore in an effort to log a lap before any potential rain arrived. Only Winterbottom's late lap proved to be quicker but the Tasman Motorsport-run crew was still able to celebrate its best day of the year to date.
"We are so fired up, it's been a sensational day," Richards said. "The Sprint Gas Commodore feels amazing; it is so good, easy to drive and definitely the highlight of the year. It's well balanced and fast. It actually encourages you to go faster.
"When I didn't have to lift the foot going over the grate I knew we would be fast. When you push the metal to the floor, the car allows you to do it. It doesn't step out, it keeps powering around the track. Murph and I can push the car and it responds. I'm loving this, Murph is loving this, we're absolutely pumped."