ONLY a disaster of unimaginable proportions at Phillip Island this weekend can stop Jamie Whincup from over taking legends Mark Skaife, Dick Johnson and Ian Geoghegan as the greatest V8 driver in Australian motorsport history.
With just three races this weekend before the season wraps in Sydney in three weeks, Whincup holds an almost unassailable 402-point lead over Ford rival Mark Winterbottom, the only man who can possibly catch the five-time champion.
If the Holden driver can extend that margin to 450 points after the two races tomorrow afternoon, the race for the title will be over. Despite the situation, Whincup, who has won 11 races this season and finished on the podium 12 times in the last 18 races, said he had no intention of taking it easy to ensure he got the points he needed.
"It's all systems go for me. I'm not conserving, I'm not really looking for points or anything," he said.
"I'll just be going out there, going hard and preparing, doing exactly what I've been doing for the last six months."
Victory in the championship would see the Red Bull Racing Australia star become the first driver to win six V8 Supercars titles, elevating him above five-time winners Skaife, Johnson and Geoghegan.
Whincup finished fourth, second and first in the three races at the venue last year, and said it was one of his favourite tracks.
"Phillip Island is one of the best tracks we go to - it's unbelievably picturesque and a world class circuit," he said.
"We had an up and down run there in 2013.
"Hopefully we learnt a bit there last year to put us in good shape for this time around."
While he still has a mathematical chance of catching Whincup, Winterbottom has all but conceded defeat.
"It's an important round even though the championship is looking a bit out of reach, so we need to regroup and finish on a high," he said.
"Hopefully we can get some momentum back and get up on the podium and get some race wins because it's been a while.
"We need a good couple of results just to finish the year off and get our confidence back for next year," he added.
Three-time championship winner Craig Lowndes is in fourth place heading to Phillip Island, and a victory in one of the three races would see him claim the outright record for the most wins at the circuit.
He presently shares the honour at eight with former teammate Skaife.
Most V8/ATC Championships:
5: Jamie Whincup, Mark Skaife, Dick Johnson, Ian Geoghegan
4: Bob Jane, Allan Moffat, Jim Richards
3: Peter Brock, Craig Lowndes