With the top 16 covered by less than 1 second in sessions one and three, qualifying will be even more important at Homebush. A return to street circuit racing coincides with a return to qualifying being critical to a good weekend, more so than at Pukekohe and Philip Island. The walls are everywhere in Sydney, and just one botched overtake, one moment late on the brakes, or one lock up could send a car careering into the wall and subsequent retirement. On the last weekend of the season, no one will want to end the year in the wall and leave their team with a costly repair bill over the winter.
How much can Steve Owen help Winterbottom? Looking back, there is a strong case for calling Mostert’s horrific crash at Bathurst the turning point in the 2015 championship. Since Bathurst, Prodrive have spent the remainder of the races with just one car at the front of the field and the Red Bull Holden’s edging closer and closer with every passing race. The absence of a backup driver to help take points off Frosty’s title rivals has hurt Prodrive no end, not just in the the chase for the drivers title, but also in the teams championship race. Owen put in some strong performances during the enduro’s but he will struggle to make the top ten over the course of the weekend and will have little influence on the championship battle, leaving Winterbottom and Reynolds to fight the rising tide of Holden Commodores.
Jason Bright could throw at cat amongst the pigeons on Saturday. Two second places and a fourth on Friday represent an extremely strong result for Bright and BJR. His last race victory came at Pukekohe back in 2014 and the V8 Supercars veteran will not let a chance for victory pass him by over the weekend. Of course, the more drivers and teams which can finish above both Winterbottom and Lowndes mean Frosty will have to score less points to secure his maiden V8SC title and all eyes will turn back to Sydney Olympic park in just a few hours time as the season finale of the 2015 V8 Supercars season gears up for fireworks on Saturday.