Now armed with a car often able to fight towards the front, Todd Hazelwood hopes he’s proven himself worthy of a long-term deal to stay at Brad Jones Racing.
Hazelwood showed flashes of speed last year at Matt Stone Racing, for whom he won the 2017 Super2 Series title, but has gone to the next level since joining BJR.
There have been some challenges – a big part of why he is just 16th in the championship – but 2020 has already produced a career-first Supercars podium in Sydney and maiden ARMOR ALL Pole last time out in Townsville.
Now with four straight top-seven qualifying performances, Hazelwood impressed many in Queensland’s north.
“I’m really pleased with how everything has been going at BJR this year,” the 24-year-old told Supercars.com.
“I’ve mentioned many times this year that the car has been more than capable of greatness, we just had to keep working hard and make sure we can unlock the speed and its true potential and we have been getting closer and closer to that as rounds have gone by.
“We have shown glimpses of speed, we’ve had great moments with getting podiums and Nick [Percat, teammate] getting a couple of wins and things like that.
“So I certainly feel like the trend is on the upward spiral and looking forward to seeing what the future holds.
“I’m just super thankful to be in this position now where I can show what I can do.”
The silly season for 2021 could well play out a little later than usual given the circumstances of this year, but Hazelwood has made clear of his intentions: “I’d love to be at the team long-term.”
BJR did not announce the length of the #14 driver’s initial contract, although there was no specific mention beyond 2020 at the time.
Hazelwood, understandably, declined to shed light on that matter but did add this: “What we have been able to achieve this year is hopefully only the start.
“I feel like we’ve probably had a few setbacks this year with a few things not going our way so I think if we had a few things on the lucky side, we could potentially be really well placed in the points.
“Hopefully first year we can get the gremlins out of the way and going into year two we can really put a solid campaign together and show what the team and I are really capable of.”
He still has three rounds this season to make gains in the standings, starting with a doubleheader at The Bend, in his home state of South Australia.
“It’s the only track I have actually driven on this year before in the BJR car,” said Hazelwood.
“The car was fast there at the pre-season test day so yeah quietly confident that we can roll the car out competitively and getting back to the home state for Nick and I is quite special as well.
“Hopefully we can turn up the heat and have a good run.”
The Repco SuperSprint will kick off The Bend doubleheader this weekend, on September 19-20.