Jamie Whincup has secured the 2008 V8 Supercar Championship title after storming to victory in the opening race of the season finale at Oran Park.
The Team Vodafone driver only needed to finish inside the top six to be assured of the title, but from the second row of the grid, he quickly moved into the lead of the race.
Despite coming under pressure from Toll HRT driver Garth Tander in the early stages, Whincup was able to lead from start to finish and will now go into the final two races of the year safe in the knowledge that his title is already secured.
“This is an amazing feeling,” he said. “It is twice as good as I ever imagined.
“I got off the line really well at the start of the race and the car was a rocket. I probably shouldn't have been dicing with Garth but I just couldn't help myself.
“It has been a long tough grind but as team, we really pieced it all together this year. I feel like we thoroughly deserve this, this is why we do what we do; money can't buy this feeling.
“We do still have two races to go so I have to stay focused, I want to finish the year knowing I did the best possible job right to the end.”
Going into the final weekend, only Ford Performance Racing driver Mark Winterbottom could prevent Whincup from lifting the crown, although 'Frosty' was well aware that he needed his fellow Ford driver to run into problems to stand any chance of securing the title for himself.
Winterbottom qualified alongside Whincup on the second row of the grid but his race fell apart when he was given a penalty for an unsafe release in the pits, which meant he could only finish the race down in 23rd place.
However he refused to be too downbeat and was full of praise for the new champion.
"Everyone's lifted their game this year; the championship's been really close," he said. "At Bathurst we still had a chance but each round 888 just gradually got away from us. Before that we had the run and before that HRT had the run. Everyone's had a crack but 888 did it at the time that counts.
"This is the first year I've really felt in contention and it gives you confidence to be a genuine front runner. You feel like you're driving it to its limits. We've got to work on everything as a whole to make sure we get everything right next year.
"For tomorrow from the back I want to go back to the front. I've done it a few times lately so I'm relatively experienced at it."