Stone Brothers Racing's Marcos Ambrose is one race finish away from winning his first V8 Supercar crown after a blistering performance in the opening race of the VIP Petfoods Main Event at Eastern Creek Raceway today.

Ambrose, who started from fourth on the grid, made a great start in the 150km race moving up to second by the first corner behind pole man Mark Skaife in the last round of the season.

His position was improved a couple of laps later when Skaife was given a drive through penalty for jumping the start.

Then the other championship contender Greg Murphy made contact and spun Glenn Seton and was also given a black flag.

Ambrose dominated the rest of the 39-lap race staying clear of trouble in a near faultless display by both driver and SBR Racing pit crew.

In the worst case scenario of Skaife or Murphy winning tomorrow's race, Ambrose just needs to finish a minimum of 31st in the 32-car field to claim his first title.

Ambrose took the chequered flag by close to 15 seconds from Jason Bright and Todd Kelly.

Ambrose's SBR teammate Russell Ingall finished a strong fourth in the Caltex Havoline Falcon, with Skaife making headway after his penalty to place eighth and Murphy 24th.

Ingall qualified 14th in the all-field shootout earlier in the day and produced a drive which will put him in a strong position to help Ambrose at the start of tomorrow's 64-lap (250km) final.

Despite his solid result today, Ambrose knows he still has a day of work to complete.

"It's not over yet," said Ambrose. "It has been a great day and it has come despite a lot of pressure.

"This has gone a long way to reaching our goal of winning the championship and it would be great to finish the season by claiming the 'double' tomorrow.

"I thought we had a car good enough to take pole and win the race, but I don't think the track conditions were near their best when I went out to do my time in the shootout.

"Both the other guys fighting for the championship [Murphy and Skaife] had tough races today and that has eased the pressure.

"I had one of my best starts for the year and that set me up for a good result. I struggled with my starts last year and it is something I have really worked on this season.

"I had a solid pit stop and once that was over I settled into a rhythm. I think I had a little bit in reserve."

Ingall, who sits fourth in the championship, enjoyed his charge through the field.

"The conditions were not that great when I went out early in the shootout, so to start 14th was a little disappointing considering our car speed," said Ingall. "I think we proved how good our race set-up was.

"It was great to be out there without any pressure and just racing. It is great that I can start towards the front tomorrow and be in a position to help Marcos out if needed. It was the team's goal to win the championship this season and we need to make sure we take the last step."



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