Mark Dutton says a Jamie Whincup comeback to replace Shane van Gisbergen is "definitely not” Triple Eight's first option, but said he is an “awesome fallback”.
After winning Sunday’s Beaurepaires Sydney SuperNight finale, van Gisbergen said he has ambition to shift to NASCAR next year.
However, van Gisbergen had reservations about leaving the team if it didn’t have a replacement in line to partner Broc Feeney.
Triple Eight boss Whincup, who retired from full-time racing at the end of 2021, could be a left field option to replace van Gisbergen.
Whincup hasn’t ruled out a comeback should van Gisbergen — who is contracted with Triple Eight for 2024 — opt for NASCAR next season.
Earlier this week, Whincup revealed hopes for a decision from van Gisbergen before he departs for his second NASCAR start at Indianapolis on August 13.
Whincup took over the top Triple Eight job in 2022
Triple Eight Team Manager Dutton, who engineered Whincup to five of his seven championships, labelled the 124-race winner an "awesome fallback”.
Howeve, Dutton said a comeback could come at the risk of being a “downer” to what is statistically the greatest Supercars career of all time.
"It’s an awesome fallback,” Dutton said in the post-race press conference of a Whincup return.
"It’s just like having the wildcard [chassis] this weekend to be able to give to Shane — we’re in a fantastic position to have that as a back-up plan.
"Is that our initial plan? No, it’s not.
"You know, it’s one of those things. We’ve got to be careful and I reminded Jamie when we’ve chatted about some of these things.
"He finished as the GOAT — if you come back and you aren’t strong, that puts a bit of a downer on your career, sort of thing.
"So, it’s definitely not our first option, but it’s a bloody good one, and you know he’ll work super hard if it happens.”
Whincup completed the bulk of running aboard Feeney’s #88 Red Bull Ampol Camaro at Monday’s Sydney ride day.
Feeney and Whincup will race together at the Penrite Oil Sandown 500 and Repco Bathurst 1000.
Van Gisbergen’s enduro co-driver, Richie Stanaway, has entertained a full-time return to Supercars, having last raced full-time in 2019.
The likes of Chaz Mostert, Brodie Kostecki and Will Brown are locked away for 2024, with Cam Waters also set to remain with Tickford Racing.
The 2023 Repco Supercars Championship will resume at the OTR SuperSprint on August 18-20.