THIS weekend's Sandown 500 could well see some significant changes to the overall V8 Supercar championship standings.
With the top nine drivers only separated by 245 points and a win worth 300 points, the pressure will on to get the best possible result.
Just to highlight the difference last year, at the same point in the championship there were 952 points between the top nine drivers.
Jamie Whincup will go into event eight of the 13-round championship with a slender 55-point lead and will be looking to make amends for his disastrous weekend at Winton, which netted him very few points.
With his Bathurst-winning co- driver Paul Dumbrell sharing the Triple Eight Red Bull Racing Holden, they will be aiming to give the team the best possible birthday present as it will be 10 years today since the team made its V8 Supercar debut at this meeting.
Second-placed Will Davison and co-driver Steve Owen will be chasing a Ford win in their Ford Performance Racing Falcon, and their challenge will be strongly backed by the sister car of Mark Winterbottom and Steven Richards with Winterbottom only 15 points behind Davison.
Craig Lowndes is only two points behind Winterbottom, and with his extraordinary record in the 500 he and co-driver Warren Luff must be a big chance in the second Triple Eight car.
Three venues have hosted the 500 and Lowndes has won at all three for a total of eight to be only one behind his mentor and great friend the late Peter Brock, who scored nine wins, all at Sandown.
Lowndes has finished on the podium in the 500 every year since 2005 and has recorded 13 podiums in 17 years in the race.
Fabian Coulthard is a further 66 points behind Lowndes and will be hoping his 100th V8 Supercar championship start will turn out to be a win in the Brad Jones Racing Lockwood Holden that he will share with Luke Youlden.
James Courtney is 22 points further back in the Toll Holden Race Team car that he will share with the experienced Greg Murphy, while Jason Bright is a further 38 points back in the BOC BJR Holden that he will share with Andrew Jones.
Shane Van Gisbergen comes in next, just 17 points behind in the Techno Autosports VIP Petfoods Holden that he will share with international driver Jeroen Bleekomolen, with Garth Tander a further 30 points behind in the second of the Toll HRT Holdens that he will share with Nick Percat.
It has not been a good year for the former champion and two- time Bathurst winner Tander, who has never finished higher than fourth in the 500 race and will be aiming for the top step on the podium while at the same time hoping those in front in the championship chase have a bad run.