Todd Hazelwood has reflected on his determination to break into Supercars off the back of winning the Dunlop Super2 Series in Newcastle.
Hazelwood pulled off a title triumph which seemed unlikely prior to the Coates Hire Newcastle 500 weekend, having trailed Paul Dumbrell by 49 points after being taken out in the preceding points-paying round at Sandown.
The 22-year-old won both races on the tight harbourside streets, while Dumbrell struggled after a crash and driveline failure in the respective qualifying sessions put him on the back row for both races.
Hazelwood’s first national title comes in his breakout fourth year in the series, during which he took his maiden race win in Round 1 on home Adelaide soil.
The Matt Stone Racing driver and his family have notably grafted together funding to supplement his racing budget through sausage sizzles, with the outcome a reward for persistence from all concerned.
“I think it’s just taking a lifetime of punches along the way,” Hazelwood responded when asked how he bounced back from his Sandown disappointment, a weekend which also including a horrifying rollover in a Sandown 500 qualifying race.
“You soon learn to build a thick skin over the years and motorsport certainly teaches that at a young age so after Sandown I was pretty fired up and to come to this weekend knowing we had a mathematical chance at winning the title.
“We put every single bit of resource into it that was possible to achieve that. That really comes down to the team at Matt Stone Racing and the amount of work that they’ve done behind the scenes.
“I suppose that’s the ultimate reward,” he added when asked about his family’s support.
“I said to them back in 2014 that we’d achieve this, and you always say you will but until you’ve actually done it, it’s hard to take in.
“Obviously it’s well-documented how incredible my family have been to get to this point, it’s certainly not the most financially well-off family but we were probably the hardest-working team family out there.
“We stuck together as a group and we haven’t looked back.
“There have been a lot of opportunities where we could have just put our hand up and taken a year off or take the easy route and miss a couple of rounds but we’ve done every round since 2014 even though we’ve effectively been up s**t creek sometimes.
“Without them I wouldn’t be here today, that’s for sure.”
Despite finishing third in the series in 2016, Hazelwood had not seriously been a factor in the title race during that campaign.
This year, he and Dumbrell swapped the points throughout a tightly-contested season.
Hazelwood says that he knew that winning the series would be possible after strong showings in each of the first two rounds of the season.
“It’s probably at Round 2 at Tassie,” he explained to Speedafe.com.
“We put together a really good weekend, we had two different styles of tracks – Adelaide and Tasmania – and had good, consistent pace and had good confidence.
“From that point on I really knew that we could put ourselves in a good position to win it, and the hardest thing is putting together the whole year to get to the final event of the year where you’ve got a shot.
“We did that and mathematically it was going to be tough but we came out swinging and we took the gloves off and we gave it our best shot possible.
“To come away with two race wins and two pole positions and round win and ultimately the championship, it’s a dream weekend that couldn’t have gone better.”