James Courtney cut a satisfied figure on Sunday afternoon in Townsville after enjoying a return to form, one that he feels is a significant moment.
The now 42-year-old had been especially speedy at the Albert Park and Wanneroo Raceway rounds earlier this year, highlighted by a second-place finish at the latter, but that was followed by an unexpected dip in form.
Prior to Race 20, he'd qualified outside the top seven rows for seven straight races, leading him to be caught up in a number of costly incidents.
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However, he was back on song by the Sunday of the NTI Townsville 500, turning fifth on the grid into fourth by the end of 88 laps.
“We cottoned on to what's been wrong with set-up for us,” the Tickford Racing driver told Speedcafe.com.
“It was good, Scaff [engineer Sam Scaffidi] sort of worked out what it was and we managed to turn the thing around.
“It was really quick in the last stint [on Saturday], we made a change in the stop and then that carried over.
“It's good, it's where we were running and then obviously Darwin was a shit one and the start of [Race 19 when he collided with James Golding].
“But to come away from the weekend with this, it's good, it's where we should be. Third and fourth for the team is a fantastic result.”
The Ford squad has Super2 front-runner Zak Best waiting in the wings should any of Courtney, Jake Kostecki or Thomas Randle lose out. Team spearhead Cameron Waters is under contract until the end of 2023.
Courtney's chances may be bolstered though if Snowy River Caravans continues to align itself with the 2010 champion. It has already extended its naming rights support of the #5 Mustang through to the end of this season.
“They're loving the relationship and the demographic we're targeting is a key market for Supercars, so it has been a perfect fit,” said Courtney.
“Those guys are loving the sport and the activations have been super successful, so ticking a lot of boxes.
“The car's quick, we're getting results, so everything is looking great.
“I'll keep racing forever. I think it shows that I don't give up, fighting Chaz [Mostert for fourth] at the end there.”
The next stop on the Supercars calendar is Tailem Bend, which has tended to be a Blue Oval stronghold.
“Pretty keen to get down there. Thomas did a rookie day there last week and was pretty happy with how the car was, so probably going there with big expectations and hopefully we can have another clean weekend,” noted Courtney.