Lee Holdsworth declared a season best fifth in Race 14 as a ‘big relief' having admitted a lack of strong results had been playing on his mind.
The Tickford Racing driver has been searching for his first complete performance since joining the Ford squad this season as he adjusts to the Mustang, having raced Holden Commodores in the last four years.
Today represented his most solid showing yet evidenced by season best results in both Armor All Qualifying and the 200km race.
Holdsworth secured eighth on the grid, which was only the third time the #5 Ford has cracked the top 10 in qualifying in 2019, before delivering a strong race run to charge to fifth and the first Tickford car home at Winton.
“It's a big relief,” Holdsworth told Speedcafe.com, whose previous best result was ninth, achieved five times already this year.
“Obviously, I knew I could do it if I qualified well. Today I qualified a lot better.
“I knew we had a top five car, and starting eighth, I thought we could finish top five.
“(It's a) huge relief. A big positive for me is that we have made another step in the right direction, which should help every round and not just this one – it's been a consistent problem for me with entry balance and being on a green tyre.
“It's positive all round. I'm stoked for the sponsors and the team to give them something back.
“I've known I've had good equipment underneath me; it's been about tuning the car a little bit myself and I feel like we're making headway with it.”
Buoyed by the result, the 36-year-old hopes this is the sign of more top five results, claiming that he feels his side of the garage has turned a corner in unlocking pace.
“I feel like we've made gains at every round. I feel like we've come out with a better car than what we started the round with,” said Holdsworth.
“Certainly, this weekend we made that gain.
“We've identified something before coming into this round with a balance issue going into qualifying that we needed to address, and we chipped away at that this weekend and made some good inroads on that.
“It feels like we've turned a bit of a corner, there's also some things that still need to be unlocked for me. It's a nice confidence builder.”
Race 14 yielded three top 10 results for Tickford with Waters coming home sixth while Mostert, who started fifth, recovered from two off-track excursions in the first two laps and a penalty to finish 10th.
The squad's fourth entry for Davison retired due to a transmission issue which caused a late Safety Car.