Van Gisbergen signed a new, two-year contract to drive for Red Bull Ampol Racing in April but has an out clause for the latter half of that deal should he land a drive in another category.
In his post-race television interview in Chicago, the New Zealander said, “I'm doing one more year in Oz and then I'd love to come over here,” although he walked back the sentiment somewhat during a subsequent press conference when he told media “I still love Supercars.”
Speaking to Speedcafe's Mark Fogarty on his Parked Up Plus podcast, Whincup dismissed suggestions Triple Eight is already looking at alternatives as “fiction.”
However, he did reveal that they may be doing so from March 2024.
“We're committed to Shane and he'll be here next year,” said the Team Principal of the Banyo-based Supercars powerhouse, before today's result.
“He needs to let us know before March of next year if he's not going to commit to 2025 and that gives us a good amount of time to work out who were going to throw into what's hopefully the best seat in the country for ‘25.”
The seven-time Supercars drivers' champion suggested that both the Dunlop Super2 Series and Championship incumbents would be candidates in the event that one of the Triple Eight Camaros is vacated.
However, he was non-committal on the notion that Tickford Racing incumbent Cameron Waters is/would be a target.
“He's heavily involved in the silly season right now but he's looking for a seat for '24,” noted Whincup.
“But, we don't have a seat for 2024; we've only got one for potentially '25, potentially '26, but he needs to work out where he's going to drive next year.”
Waters is an intriguing case, and whose contract decision is the next big domino to fall in the silly season.
He is thought to be exploring alternatives to Tickford, with interest understood to be coming from Walkinshaw Andretti United, despite his current team boss, Tim Edwards, implying that the Campbellfield-based outfit has an option in its favour which it may have even already exercised.
Regardless, Whincup concedes that SVG would be difficult to replace.
“It's very difficult, isn't it?” he admitted.
“Very, very difficult. He's been a fantastic asset to the team and we'd like to think that Triple Eight's been a fantastic asset for him to showcase his skills at the highest level.
“It's a fantastic partnership, we'd love to see Shane stay on, but at the end of the day, no one anywhere – Ayrton Senna [for example] – no one is irreplaceable.
“So, if he does decide to go on to different things, that's my job, with the help of the fantastic support crew around me, to find the next Shane van Gisbergen.
“It'd be out there somewhere, but we'll just have to find it.
“But, we'll cross that bridge if it comes.”