Jamie Whincup and Paul Dumbrell claimed Bathurst 1000 victory by just 0.3129 seconds as Whincup resisted enormous pressure from David Reynolds to the flag.
The timing of the final safety car period left all the leaders playing a cat-and-mouse game of fuel conservation heading towards the finish - alternately backing off and charging to try and make it to the end.
Whincup kept his Triple 8 Holden at the front throughout the tense denouement, securing the fourth Bathurst win of his career and extending his V8 Supercars points lead in the process.
Had Rod Nash/Ford Performance Racing driver Reynolds made it past Whincup in the car he shared with Dean Canto, the pair would have claimed their maiden V8 win in the series' greatest race.
Whincup and Dumbrell's team-mates Craig Lowndes and Warren Luff came home third. Both Triple Eight cars had dropped out of sequence with early tyre problems, but were able to get back among the lead pack when the next safety car came at the right time for them.
Lowndes was still hurt by having to queue behind the sister #1 car in the pits, so had to produce a late charge through the field to secure the podium finish.
His final victim was Holden Racing Team's James Courtney. The former champion was having his best run of a hugely disappointing season and was all over Whincup for a while in the closing stages before having to ease off - losing out to Lowndes with just two laps to go.
Courtney and co-driver Cameron McConville's 2011 Bathurst winning HRT team-mates Garth Tander and Nick Percat were out of contention early on after Percat hit the wall at the Dipper.
Michael Caruso and Greg Ritter completed the top five in a very competitive run for Garry Rogers' Holden team.
Reynolds' performance was the only consolation for FPR on a disastrous day for its lead cars.
Mark Winterbottom's title hopes faded as he and Steven Richards finished only 11th, hurt by a late tyre issue forcing a very early last stop.
Polesitter Will Davison and co-driver John McIntyre had a string of issues, including a pit procedure penalty, McIntyre being punted into a restart spin that left him last, a very slow pitstop, and finally a component breakage that sent Davison flying over the gravel at high speed late on.
Results - 161 laps: Pos Drivers Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Whincup/Dumbrell Triple 8 Holden 6h16m01.3304s 2. Reynolds/Canto Rod Nash/FPR Ford + 0.3129s 3. Lowndes/Luff Triple 8 Holden + 8.7885s 4. Courtney/McConville HRT Holden + 9.5041s 5. Caruso/Ritter Garry Rogers Holden + 11.1028s 6. Webb/McLaughlin Tekno Holden + 18.1852s 7. Slade/Thompson Rosenberg/SBR Ford + 21.0434s 8. Holdsworth/Baird Stone Brothers Ford + 27.6754s 9. Ingall/Klien Walkinshaw/HRT Holden + 42.0565s 10. Moffat/Davison Dick Johnson Ford + 44.7775s 11. Winterbottom/Richards FPR Ford + 54.9502s 12. Van Gisbergen/Youlden Stone Brothers Ford + 57.2911s 13. Murphy/Kelly Kelly Holden + 1m00.2811s 14. Wall/Pither Britek/BJR Holden + 1m15.7062s 15. Kelly/Russell Kelly Holden + 1m24.2523s 16. Premat/Perkins Garry Rogers Holden + 1m34.3122s 17. Johnson/Simonsen Dick Johnson Ford + 1m34.5334s 18. Kelly/Blanchard Kelly Holden + 1m46.2692s 19. Reindler/Gaunt Kelly Holden + 1m46.8905s 20. Waters/Dixon Kelly Holden + 3 laps 21. Bright/Jones Brad Jones Holden + 8 laps 22. Fiore/Halliday Triple F/DJR Ford + 14 laps 23. Coulthard/Besnard Brad Jones Holden + 14 laps 24. Davison/McIntyre FPR Ford + 18 laps 25. Tander/Percat HRT Holden + 22 laps Retirements: D'Alberto/Wood D'Alberto Ford 122 laps Douglas/Pye Dumbrell Holden 97 laps Owen/Morris Paul Morris/DJR Ford 53 laps Reid/Patrizi Tekno Holden 19 laps