For a boy from the western suburbs of Sydney, Mark Winterbottom's victory in the season-ending V8 Supercar race on the Olympic Park street circuit was a great way to bow out in 2011.
The Doonside product took out the 250km race on Sunday to end his championship on a high and snatch third place in the overall standings from New Zealand youngster Shane van Gisbergen.
It capped a dominant end to the year for Winterbottom, who claimed the most points of any driver from the annual Bathurst 1000 endurance race onwards to come home with a very wet sail.
And the 30-year-old is hopeful the strong end to the season is just the beginning for his historically under-performing Ford Performance Racing (FPR) outfit.
"I'm just so proud of my team and the way we've turned it around this season," Winterbottom said.
"We were sitting in the press conference after we'd won Gold Coast wondering if we were going to back it up and we've done that pretty well for the rest of the year."
As much as there were highs for FPR in Sunday's race as Winterbottom came in ahead of Holden's Craig Lowndes and van Gisbergen, it could have been so much better.
Teammate Paul Dumbrell, in his last outing before retiring as a full-time driver, was running second for most of the 74-lap race.
With a possible podium finish looming, Dumbrell spun out and, as he tried to get his car back into the race, his stricken Ford was collected by Holden driver Lee Holdsworth to end his career in deflating fashion.
That crash was one of several to mar Sunday's racing, with another Ford pilot in Tony D'Alberto collecting a concrete wall front-on at speed after a suspension failure left him a passenger.
While Winterbottom was upset for his stablemate he is hopeful his own good form shows FPR are finally ready to challenge the dominant TeamVodafone outfit of Lowndes and 2011 champion Jamie Whincup.
"I'm disappointed for PD. That was his last race and he deserved a better result than what he got," he said.
"Disappointed for him but as a team we should hold our head up high and be proud of how we've come home and look forward to next year."
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