Cameron Waters fended off Scott McLaughlin in the second ARMOR ALL Race for the Grid to record pole position for tomorrow’s Wilson Security Sandown 500.
Starting the second qualifying heat third thanks to the efforts of co-driver Richie Stanaway in the earlier encounter, Waters shot to the lead at the first corner.
McLaughlin also made it through on polesitter David Reynolds through the opening turns to give chase after his Ford rival.
Waters survived a scare when he temporarily lost power between Turns 1 and 2 in the early laps, which allowed McLaughlin to draw alongside.
Holding onto the place, Waters eventually took the flag 0.4 seconds clear of McLaughlin, with David Reynolds and Jamie Whincup also close behind.
“I’m absolutely pumped and didn’t expect it. I got a mega start and the car was amazing. We’re in really good shape for tomorrow,” said Waters.
“I wanted to do a burnout at the end but it wasn’t a race [rather a qualifying heat] so we’ll have to save that for tomorrow.”
McLaughlin, who has 13 ARMOR ALL Pole Positions to his name already this season, declared himself happy with second.
“To be P2 is good for tomorrow and hopefully Alex has a good start tomorrow and we’re in a strong position for when I get in the car,” he said.
Chaz Mostert pulled a late move on Fabian Coulthard for fifth ahead of Dale Wood, Garth Tander, Mark Winterbottom – who dropped from fourth to ninth off the grid – and Nick Percat.
The Shane van Gisbergen/Matt Campbell Red Bull Holden will start the Sandown 500 just 19th after the reigning champion failed to make serious inroads from his 22nd place starting slot.
Team-mate Craig Lowndes will start even further back in 24th after he was forced to pit from 13th on lap seven with a mechanical issue.
“We knew on the grid that it had a problem, we were just hoping to get through the race,” explained Lowndes.
“Obviously everyone could see the smoke coming out and it was more James Bond than Colin Bond, which is what the livery is. It was a bit of a disappointment, obviously.”
Jason Bright was the last of the finishers in 23rd after an issue pulling away on the warm-up lap forced the MEGA Fuels Ford to start from pitlane.
The drama caused a second formation lap, reducing the competitive running by one lap to 19.
Just 24 cars started the race following the crash between Todd Hazelwood and Jonathon Webb in the earlier heat.
Hazelwood’s #4 Commodore will take no further part in the weekend while Tekno Autosports is busy repairing its entry for tomorrow.