A 25-second time penalty has stripped Shane van Gisbergen of his Saturday win at the Newcastle 500 and cost him critical ground in the championship.
Stewards confirmed the time penalty this morning after last night’s investigation into an alleged refuelling breach at his third pitstop.
The fuel hose remained connected when his Commodore was being dropped to the ground, which contravenes regulations.
Van Gisbergen’s penalty drops him from first to fifth in the race result, behind Scott McLaughlin, David Reynolds, Jamie Whincup and Scott Pye.
It also extends McLaughlin’s lead over van Gisbergen in the championship from two to 53 points with just one, 150-point race remaining.
If Red Bull Racing star van Gisbergen wins today’s 250km race, McLaughlin now needs only to finish sixth to claim his maiden Supercars title.
But the scenario is similar to last year’s finale in Newcastle, when McLaughlin started the day 78 points ahead then incurred three penalties and surrendered the title to Red Bull Racing rival Jamie Whincup.
Qualifying starts at 10.50am, followed by the Top 10 Shootout at 12.50pm to decide grid positions for the 95-lap finale, which starts at 3.40pm.
The Supercars championship is heading for another tense showdown on the streets of Newcastle on Sunday after the two series leaders fought out an extraordinary battle in Saturday’s first 250km race.
Ford star and series leader Scott McLaughlin looked headed for victory but ran out of fuel on the penultimate bend, handing the race win to Holden’s Shane van Gisbergen.
McLaughlin limped across the line in second and will take a tiny two-point lead into the final day of the season.
Whoever finishes ahead on Sunday will be the series champion.
Van Gisbergen said after the race that Sunday’s finale was “winner takes all”.
“It was epic. I thought it was all over after the safety car came out. I knew it was too early.
“Obviously we had to come back in again. I tried to burn as much fuel as possible so we could fit it in.”
McLaughlin said he and van Gisbergen had been “like cockroaches to each other” given their closeness throughout the season.
“I was saving [fuel] the whole way. We were running the gauntlet there for a little bit. It just didn’t pay off.”
McLaughlin had qualified third and faced a wall of Holdens in front of him as he tried to protect his slender 14-point championship lead over van Gisbergen.