Feeney ‘blocking out’ Whincup speculation

Feeney ‘blocking out’ Whincup speculation

Auto racing

The teenager is considered the overwhelming favourite to replace the seven-time series championship when he steps out of the driver’s seat and into the team management role next season.

It’s believed he’s always been the preferred candidate, even before more established stars linked to the seat like Chaz Mostert and Cam Waters were ruled out of contention.

Whincup said recently that there is “still three of four” candidates on the short list, although also talked about how he’d like to see any rookie driver coming into the sport signed on a two-year deal – which only added to speculation Feeney is destined for the seat.

Speaking to the official Supercars website, Feeney acknowledged the rumours and said it was nice to be spoken about as a candidate.

However he also said he’s blocking the speculation out as he focusses on his ongoing Super2 campaign with Triple Eight.

“Look, it’s been pretty cool seeing the response from everyone,” said Feeney. “All of the drivers up and down pitlane, a couple of people have been mentioning my name.

“But it’s something that I’ve got to block out.

“Obviously next year I want to be able to move into the main series, and Whincup’s seat is available. Everyone would be lying if we said we didn’t want that seat, I think nearly all 24 drivers on the grid want that seat.

“It’s something to block out for me, we’ve still got five rounds of the Duper2 series ahead. But it has been really cool seeing everyone’s support.”

Feeney added that the pressure will be on whoever ends up in the #88 entry next season, given T8’s driver turn-over is famously low.

The team has really only made three significant moves during its successful stint in Supercars, signing Craig Lowndes in 2005, Jamie Whincup in 2006 and then Shane van Gisbergen in 2016.

Whincup went on to win seven titles, van Gisbergen one (so far) while Lowndes was a regular race winner until he retired from full-time racing at the end go the 2018 season.

Adding to the pressure on Whincup’s replacement is the mid-2022 roll-out of the Gen3 rules, although Feeney is widely-tipped to do plenty of development work on the Chevrolet prototype later this year.

“No matter who moves into the seat it is a big challenge,” said Feeney.

“Not only replacing Jamie Whincup, but supporting Shane van Gisbergen, who is on an absolute roll at the moment.

“The team has had so limited drivers in its time. They’ve secured one down and moved forward with them to win championships.

“So whoever does go into that seat has got a big task on their hands… also moving through the Gen3 role and helping Jamie in his new management role as well.

“It’s a big time for Triple Eight and I’m excited to be part of the Super2 programme at the moment. Who knows what the future will hold.”

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