REVEALED: How a slow season has kept Whincup on the track
SEVEN-time Supercars champion Jamie Whincup admits a string of tough results in the past two seasons has kept him racing longer.
After almost a decade of dominance, Whincup, the most successful Supercars driver of all time, is in a form slump.
His last race victory was at Sandown in September last year, creating a winless streak almost unheard of in his career.
Whincup revealed the series of recent struggles had kept him hungry to keep racing Supercars.
"I'm really grateful for the challenges this sport continues to keep throwing up," he told the QT.
"These challenges have given me longevity.
"I couldn't be keener to get on the track this weekend.
"There's a massive carrot."
Speaking at Queensland Raceway ahead of his 16th year racing at Ipswich, Whincup acknowledged it would be tough to knock off the rocket Ford Mustangs of Scott McLaughlin and Fabian Coulthard.
"We're up against a really tough competition," he said.
"The competition has really stepped up, which, when you go back three years ago, we were pushing other teams to step up and make the sport better Team Penske has absolutely done that, they're doing a cracking job.
"There's a massive carrot
"Of course those guys are going to be hard to beat this weekend but hopefully we're right there and if they do make a mistake we'll be right there to capitalise on it."
The lacklustre season hasn't been contained to one side of the Red Bull Holden Racing Team garage, with Whincup's team-mate Shane van Gisbergen also struggling for consistency.
Van Gisbergen won the last race at Townsville and one earlier in the year in Tasmania.
"The results haven't been there for one reason or another," Whincup said of his performance.
"We're looking forward to the challenge of trying to grind our way back this year and try to get back to the front.
"Those things don't happen overnight, it takes a bit of time.
"We're well and truly on track, we have a good plan."
The Gold Coast-based driver is sixth in the championship, 640 points away from leader McLaughlin.
Whincup refuses to predict where he will end up when the category finishes its last race in Newcastle on November 24.
"I don't like to look at that," he said.
"There's a lot of water to run under the bridge between now and the end of the year.
"There's no point in focusing on what position I am now or anything like that.
"This part of the year is trying to win as many races as you can."
The Red Bull Holden Racing Team tested at Queensland Raceway last week.
Whincup said there was no benefit to considering the circuit as home soil for the Banyo -based team.
"Home tracks can work as an advantage or they can work as a disadvantage," he said.
"We have to try extra hard this weekend."
After Queensland Raceway the Supercars championship will move into its endurance season. "Fingers crossed the second part of the year is better than the first half," Whincup laughed.