Todd Hazelwood is assessing his options to remain on the Supercars grid for 2020 with a third year at Matt Stone Racing hanging in the balance.
The 2017 Super2 Series winner has raced for the Queensland outfit since 2014 having risen through the Super2 ranks, before graduating to the Supercars Championship last year on a two-year deal, which is up for renewal.
That arrangement was underpinned by MSR enacting a lease of a Racing Entitlements Contract from Jason Bright and with backing from long term investor Jason Gomersall.
This season the squad has opted to run a rolling sponsorship model with Hazelwood admitting that securing backers has been tough.
While MSR is committed to continuing in Supercars next year, its plans are yet to be secured which has left Hazelwood to search for a potential new home in 2020.
“I’m trying to understand where does Todd Hazelwood fit in the Supercars grid for 2020,” Hazelwood told Speedcafe.com.
“It was always a two-year program for me at Matt Stone Racing and essentially I’m off-contract now, and I’m trying to find new opportunities because there could be a chance that MSR might not be on the grid next year.
“We (myself and the team) thought we would see how the year would pan out and we said that we would get to mid year and discuss how things have been going.
“Matt (Stone, team owner) and Jason Gomersall’s words are that they are really happy with what we have been able to achieve on track, but with sponsorship and everything else that has been going on has been tough.
“It is just another hurdle and challenge that we will face and we have overcome many of them before. We will see what happens.
“The biggest thing now is understanding what opportunities are available and trying to get something locked away sooner rather than later.
“There is nothing worse than when you are trying to get to the pointy end of the year where people are trying to put a championship together, but at the same time trying to put sponsors together, and trying to secure something can be really tough.”
Hazelwood’s graduation to Supercars has been tough with his and MSR’s rookie year featuring a change of car from an ex-DJR Team Penske Ford to a VF Commodore mid-year.
However, this season armed with a Triple Eight ZB Commodore, the 23-year-old has impressed from the outset with an appearance in the Armor All Top 10 Shootout followed by a maiden top 10 finish at the Superloop Adelaide 500 opener.
The South Australian also outpaced the Red Bull Triple Eight Holdens at Phillip Island and is currently sitting 17th in the standings.
While among several drivers out of contract, Hazelwood believes he deserves a place on the grid and is determined to prove it in the second half of the year.
“It is always crunch time. Coming into the second half of the season it is a golden opportunity to show what I’m capable of,” he said.
“But I feel now in my second year and at a small team in MSR we have been able to prove a lot this year already.
“I feel like I’m more than capable of being in this field and mixing it with the best if I’ve got the equipment underneath me to do it.
“Hopefully I’m still with MSR in 2020, but if not I’m on the grid somewhere else.
“There is always added pressure as there are a lot of drivers in the same boat as myself and we are out there trying to achieve the same thing and be on the grid next year.
“There are a lot of new people trying to come in too so there is always pressure to perform and that is the beauty of this sport and I’ve just got to embrace the challenge.”
Describing MSR as his extended family, he admits that leaving the team would be a tough call.
“It would be hard to leave, this is my extended family,” he added.
“I have spent a lot of time at the workshop with the crew I work with today. It is a very close family. We will see how things unfold.”
Hazelwood will be in action today when the BetEasy Darwin Triple Crown kicks off with opening practice at 1110 local time/1140 AEST.