TeamVodafone team-mate Jamie Whincup may be leading the pursuit of the V8 Supercar title, but it is veteran Craig Lowndes who will steal the early spotlight as the series arrives in Tasmania this weekend.
Lowndes will make his 150th V8 Supercar start at the Falken Tasmania Challenge, and is aiming to maintain the form that he and Whincup are currently enjoying. TeamVodafone appears to be going from strength to strength in the home stretch, having claimed every race win at the past three events, capped by the long-held goal of a 1-2 finish being achieved at the last round in Bahrain.
Although he currently trails in fourth place overall, Lowndes says he is aiming to make his 150th start a special one at Symmons Plains - especially if it can help both his and Whincup's aspirations for the rest of the campaign.
"It's an awesome achievement to hit the 150-round milestone - I've had some fantastic memories during this time and many with TeamVodafone who I have been with for over a third of the time," he said, "We're looking to keep the speed and momentum going as we head to Symmons Plains this week - the team had a good run here last year and we're confident we can maintain this form.
"I'll be doing everything I can to help Jamie, but also working hard to keep at Garth Tander for third place. He only needs a DNF here or there and I'm right back in the hunt."
With seven consecutive race wins next to his name, meanwhile, Whincup can break a record for the longest victory streak if he greets the chequered flag in first place in this weekend's opener. Ironically, the current mark of eight straight race wins is held by Lowndes, who set it during his debut season in 1996.
Whincup is also close to wrapping up the pole award for 2008, but is refusing to take anything for granted with two tough rounds still ahead of him. However, the winner of last year's Symmons Plains event reckons that the circuit's sub one-minute lap times made qualifying up the order very important.
"There's limited passing opportunities here, so qualifying is they key," the 25-year old explained, "We've done well here in the past and have some great results behind us from the last few rounds, so we're looking to keep that ball rolling.
"I do have to apologise though - this weekend there will be none of my usual win-or-bust style. We're in a solid championship position and the penultimate round is about maximising points and opportunities ahead of Oran Park."
TeamVodafone enjoys a solid lead in both the drivers' and teams' championship with two rounds remaining, with Whincup sitting atop the individual standings on 2916 points and Lowndes fourth on 2367.
That sort of showing, headlined by an historic third straight Bathurst victory, has led to the team being nominated in the annual Sport Performer Awards, overseen by esteemed journalists from Australia's The Age
and Sydney Morning Herald
newspapers and the Fairfax radio network. Award winners are determined by votes from the general public, with winners to be announced on 26 November.