JAMIE Whincup pre-empted a visit to Marcos Ambrose's home town by saying he would relish the chance to race against his predecessor as the V8 Supercars' benchmark performer.
As Australia's biggest motor sport category makes its annual pilgrimage to Launceston this weekend, speculation is growing that NASCAR star Ambrose could be heading home to the championship where he made his name.
The North Carolina-based 37-year-old has been linked to a possible entry by the powerful Penske Racing operation, which runs Will Power's three-car IndyCar team as well as a two-car NASCAR Sprint Cup team.
Team Penske president Tim Cindric told Australian motor sports website Speedcafe.com he ``would like to find a way'' for the team to be involved in next year's V8 Supercar series.
Launceston-born Ambrose, who won back-to-back titles in 2003-04 before moving to the US, was named by Cindric as a possible headline driver.
Whincup was just emerging in the category a decade ago but has since assumed the Tasmanian's mantle as the driver to beat by winning five of the last six series, and is thrilled at the prospect of going head-to-head.
``I can see where the appeal would be with Marcos,'' said the 31-year-old Queenslander.
``He's certainly got a lot of V8 Supercar experience and he's an extremely good driver.
``It's interesting. It's only rumours at the moment but it's an interesting concept.
``It'd be great to drive alongside one of the best V8 Supercar drivers we've seen.''
Cindric said any formal planning for a V8 entry wouldn't happen until after this year's Indy 500 in May, an event Team Penske has won 15 times.
Whincup said whether the American giant gets involved or not, even contemplating an entry is a huge plus.
``Hopefully it'll lead to a lot more international events, which is what we want to do,'' he said.
``We want to expand that side of it, maybe with Penske involved it'll make that transition easier.''
After a disappointing 2013 in which he finished 22nd with only one top-10 finish, Ambrose entered his eighth full season of NASCAR amid talk that it could be his last.
``If I have another year like that, I'm going to have to really start scratching my head and have a good hard think about what I'm doing because, this year is certainly the year we need to break out and do something special,'' he said in February.
The Richard Petty Motorsports driver has two Sprint Cup wins to his credit, both at the Watkins Glen road track in New York State, but is yet to win on an oval track.