Luke Youlden resisted big pressure from a pack of pursuers to win the first Sandown 500 qualifying heat in Shane van Gisbergen's Stone Brothers Ford.
The grid for V8 Supercars' first endurance event of 2012 is being set via two 20-lap qualifying races on Saturday. The first sees the co-drivers at the wheel and decides the grid for the second, where the full-season regulars take over. The result of heat two sets the field for Sunday's 500-kilometre race.
Youlden jumped into the lead from third on the grid at the start, ahead of John McIntyre in the Ford Performance Racing Falcon that Will Davison had put on pole.
As a long lead train developed, McIntyre hung on in second until lap 16, when Dean Canto battled past in David Reynolds' FPR/Rod Nash Ford.
That also opened the door for Paul Dumbrell, driving a spectacular race in championship leader Jamie Whincup's Triple Eight Holden. Dumbrell charged through from 10th on the grid to fourth in the opening few laps, then pounced on McIntyre as Canto passed him.
Canto would also lose out to Dumbrell on the final lap, and he came within two tenths of a second of snatching victory from Youlden at the flag.
Front-row starter Nick Percat lost ground away from the line and finished sixth in the #2 Holden Racing Team car, behind Craig Lowndes' Triple Eight partner Warren Luff.
Whincup's main title rival Mark Winterbottom would not have enjoyed seeing his FPR Ford finish only 19th after Steven Richards was spun by Paul Morris at the first corner.
Results - 20 laps: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Luke Youlden Stone Brothers Ford 23m57.8838s 2. Paul Dumbrell Triple 8 Holden + 0.2210s 3. Dean Canto Rod Nash/FPR Ford + 0.4646s 4. John McIntyre FPR Ford + 1.9952s 5. Warren Luff Triple 8 Holden + 2.2993s 6. Nick Percat HRT Holden + 3.2744s 7. Scott McLaughlin Tekno Holden + 3.6669s 8. Andrew Thompson Rosenberg/SBR Ford + 4.5652s 9. Greg Ritter Garry Rogers Holden + 4.8483s 10. Alex Davison Dick Johnson Ford + 6.9529s 11. Cameron McConville HRT Holden + 7.2934s 12. David Russell Kelly Holden + 8.8033s 13. Andrew Jones Brad Jones Holden + 9.1219s 14. Craig Baird Stone Brothers Ford + 11.2062s 15. Matt Halliday Triple F/DJR Ford + 13.9671s 16. Dale Wood D'Alberto Ford + 14.4707s 17. Tim Blanchard Kelly Holden + 14.7887s 18. Chris Pither Britek/BJR Holden + 17.7552s 19. Steven Richards FPR Ford + 18.1267s 20. Christian Klien Walkinshaw/HRT Holden + 18.4586s 21. Jack Perkins Garry Rogers Holden + 24.4644s 22. Owen Kelly Kelly Holden + 25.0517s 23. Scott Pye Dumbrell Holden + 27.1373s 24. David Besnard Brad Jones Holden + 27.6734s 25. Daniel Gaunt Kelly Holden + 28.3284s 26. Jonny Reid Tekno Holden + 28.6502s 27. Allan Simonsen Dick Johnson Ford + 35.0844s 28. Paul Morris Paul Morris/DJR Ford + 1m00.9094s