A mere 161 laps and 1000km at an average speed of 178km/h separate TeamVodafone's Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup from history at one of the world's greatest touring car races, the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 at a daunting Mount Panorama.

But Lowndes doesn't want to hear about the possibilities before he and Whincup go for four straight victories around the nail biting circuit, especially after being pipped to pole by Whincup's title rival Garth Tander and the potent Toll HRT Holden.

"We are aware of what (history) we can create," Lowndes admitted, "It's 161 laps, it's a long day. If we are in a position to win it, I'm sure we will try our best, but we are not worried about trying to re-create history. No doubt it will come down to the last 15 or 20 laps and there will be four or five cars in it."

Lowndes and Whincup will start from the front of the grid next to arch-rival - and arch-enemy - Toll Holden Racing Team after an ice-cool Tander slotted his Commodore onto the Armor All pole position with a cracking Top Ten Hoot-out lap this afternoon.

Second last out onto the circuit, Tander's lap was almost seamless. He was 0.1secs quicker than anyone over the first sector, and had increased that to 0.3secs at the end of the second sector, before a small lock-up at the Chase cost him a little time. Nevertheless, the 2min 07.9463secs lap time was still good enough for the top spot.

The Vodafone duo will be mindful, however, that Tander did the same thing last year - and stalled on the grid. This year, the veteran won't have to worry as team-mate Will Davison has the starting duties.

"There are no demons from last year to worry about," Tander smiled, "To be honest, I'm glad [qualifying] is over and done with, and we can concentrate on tomorrow. Will's going to start, so we can press on for 161 laps.

"That was a really hard lap to do because of the weather, how it changed the track. I didn't know if the track was going to grip up or lose grip - for our car it lost grip. Across the top, there were a couple of small slides, into and exiting the Dipper, so I was pretty cautious across the top. Then, the split on my dash out of Forrest's Elbow wasn't as strong as I would have liked, so I went in a little deep at the Chase and it grabbed the right front. It was a little messy through the apex, but seemed to get out of there okay and the run down to the last corner was quite good. I didn't know whether it was going to be good enough, so when the boys said P1 with Jason [Richards] still to go, I was pretty happy with front row."

Lowndes set a time of 2min 08.2231secs on a drying track, after a deluge early in the afternoon almost produced a wet shootout, making a little error as he negotiated the 6.2km circuit in difficult conditions. Despite that, however, he was the biggest mover in the shootout, gaining four places on his initial qualifying result.

"Thankfully, the track dried quicker than we thought it would, but there were still some damp patches across the top," Lowndes reported, "I am really happy with where we are starting especially considering the conditions in which we did the lap. The car was a lot better than we thought it would be. We softened the front slightly before the shootout, which made it a lot nicer and we will now look at making it more tyre-friendly for the race."

Behind the front two will be Ford Performance Racing pair Steven Richards and Mark Winterbottom, with Garry Rogers Motorsport fliers Lee Holdsworth and Michael Caruso fourth.

"We were improving the car right up until the warm-up lap, so I only had a couple of corners to feel the new set-up," 'Frosty' revealed, "It was a lot better, but keeping off the walls and the watery spots as well as judging a new set up, it was pretty hard to nail it into turn one."

Co-driver Richards watched nervously from the pit garage, aware that he will be starting the #6 Ford on Sunday.

"It doesn't get any easier for me!" he grimaced, "You know Frosty's going to do a great job - he would have driven the car to its limit in the conditions, which kept getting better and better. But the two races that I've won up here, I've started from 11th and 15th. We're not starting that far back!"

Row three will be shared by provisional polesitter Jason Richards and Team BOC team-mate Cam McConville, with Shane Van Gisbergen/Alex Davison (Stone Brothers Racing), Todd Kelly/Rick Kelly (Jack Daniel's Racing), Paul Dumbrell/Steve Owen (Autobarn Racing), Russell Ingall/Owen Kelly (Supercheap Auto Racing) and Greg Murphy/Mark Skaife (Sprint Gas Racing) completing the reshuffled top ten.

"I thought the shootout lap was good, but I was a little conservative through the Chase and it cost me a front row spot," Richards admitted, "It's always close between the top five cars in the shootout and, to be honest, I'm quite happy to be starting in the golden grid position. 888 Racing have won twice from the third row and, after a second place finish from sixth last year, I'm hoping to go one spot better tomorrow."

The heavy rain shortly before the start meant the early starters, including veterans Ingall and Murphy, were simply pioneers and track driers for the rest, and there was further grief for the Kiwi when his team appeared at pit exit late and was penalised by having its shootout time disallowed.

"It's 161 laps, mate, 161 laps," a sanguine Murphy commented later, "That was for pole - and, if you don't have pole, it doesn't matter."