THE day Jamie Whincup feels another Supercars title is out of reach is the day he hangs up his driving gloves for good.
But not today.
The seven-time Supercars title winner and reigning champion believes his Red Bull Holden Racing Team is as good as any on the grid.
And he’ll hope to get his 2018 title defence off to a hot start when he lines up in two weeks for the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide — an event he has already won a staggering 10 times.
With potential retirement creeping ever closer, Whincup believes he’ll know when the moment is right to call time on his decorated Supercars career.
“I think that’s a gut feel,” the 35-year-old told the Daily Telegraph.
“I take an independent and — I believe — a good read on my performance and my ability.
“The day I don’t feel like I can win the grand prize is the day I finish up.
“I think we have as good a chance as anyone right now and if we work hard good things should come.”
Despite claiming retirement was not yet on the cards, Whincup readily admits last year’s title push was the hardest he’d had to endure.
Whincup was locked in a two-way battle for the 2017 championship with Shell V-Power Racing’s Scott McLaughlin as they entered the final event of the season at Newcastle.
Whincup thought his title hopes were dashed when a crash during the first lap on the Saturday forced him to nurse his car through the race.
But three separate penalties to Scott during Sunday’s race gifted Whincup a narrow 21-point lead on the championship ladder.
“I’ve had some great battles in the past with some quality opposition but last year our standards were pretty lean,” Whincup said.
“Scotty (McLaughlin) stole all the pole positions from everyone and I was on three wins going into the last round which was well under what I normally would.
“I’ve got a few grey hairs these days but I’ll keep pushing through and I won’t go past my use-by date. I’ll hang it up when the time comes.”
The 2018 Virgin Australia Supercars Championship begins with the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide from March 1-4.