Todd Hazelwood is relishing the ability to pass drivers he’s dreamt of racing as his Matt Stone Racing team continue to ‘punch above their weight’.
The single car Queensland operation once again impressed at Phillip Island with Hazelwood at times outperforming the factory Holden squad garnering praise from its boss Roland Dane.
Qualifying inside the top 10 for both races placed the 23-year-old firmly among the front runners in what is still uncharted waters for the second year Supercars driver, who propped up the standings last year.
Hazelwood, driving Jamie Whincup’s 2018 car, came home in 11th on Saturday for his second best result in his main game career but his weekend ultimately ended in frustrating circumstances after lap 1 contact from James Courtney.
“I’d love to do more of it, that’s the game that we’re in and the best thing about my 2019 is that I’ve been racy, I’ve been passing cars, amongst cars and guys that I’ve dreamt of racing, so it’s really cool and enjoyable,” Hazelwood told Speedcafe.com.
“I’m relishing the opportunity of having a good car beneath me now this year and hopefully we can keep pushing forward.
“Obviously this weekend it was funny to come away from Saturday in 11th (and) I was almost disappointed.
“Looking back 12 months we would’ve been beside ourselves, so I think it’s shown how far we’ve come in such a short amount of time, which is a great thing.”
A strong start from eighth on the grid on Sunday saw the 2017 Super2 Series winner fighting over sixth when he was tapped into a spin by Courtney, who subsequently copped a 15s penalty for the infringement.
Hazelwood was able to fight back to 16th but was left to reflect on what might have been.
“A hundred percent (it is a case of what might have been),” he said.
“It was pretty frustrating at first.
“We went into qualifying knowing we probably had a bit of a better race car than qualifying, so we’re pretty happy to come out of Turn 1 and seventh, and then battling for sixth there, that would have been a really solid position to start the race.
“We had fantastic race pace, I think we were the fastest car out on track for the majority of both stints, so lots of positives, but obviously being P16 is not where we want to be.
“It is what it is at the end of the day. We were racing hard and we were on cold tyres on the first lap. These things happen. It just sucks when we’re having such a good weekend for it to end like that.”
Hazelwood is not one for getting ahead of himself after the recent success and is just proud to deliver results for his small team which is enjoying its new alliance with Triple Eight.
“I just like doing my own thing, keeping my head down and letting the results do the talking at the end of the day, so, for us it was a great reward because we’re only a very small team at Matt Stone Racing and I think we’re punching above our weight really well,” said Hazelwood.
“A lot of that goes down to the engineering team, particularly, Wes McDougall. I’ve obviously worked closely with him for a number of years now and it’s just great to have such a good relationship with him where him and I can work closely and really refine all the smaller details, which I think help show what we can do.”
Hazelwood will head to next month’s Pirtek Perth SuperNight sitting 18th in the championship standings.