Then the phone finally rang. At the other end was David Reynolds, offering a career lifeline.
Fast forward 12 months and the 39-year-old has both a Bathurst 1000 victory under his belt and a confirmed gig alongside Supercars' resident larrikin for 2018.
Erebus Motorsport has elected to keep their Peter Brock Trophy-winning combo together, with Youlden set to continue his partnership with Reynolds in next year's Pirtek Enduro Cup.
"I'm stoked to have re-signed with the team,” Youlden said.
"Erebus give me the best chance to go back-to- back and I think the car will be even stronger next year.
"Having won this year, it's definitely given me even greater motivation, I'll be pushing twice as hard to try and win the next one.
"I've been here now for 12 months and I couldn't be happier; it's going to be another fun year and I think that atmosphere in the team is conducive to good performance.”
Youlden's performance in the three-event Enduro Cup was especially impressive given his lack of race miles, but he is chasing more race outings ahead of next year's enduros.
"I don't think not having had done the extra miles has affected my performance but it's always nice to do more racing, especially in the lead up, you want to be as best prepared as you can for the enduros,” he said.
Erebus general manager Barry Ryan hailed Youlden's contribution to the operation and believes he is the best driver to pair with Reynolds in the No. 9 Holden.
"Luke did an outstanding job this year, so it's great to be able to get him back for another year,” Ryan said.
"He is exactly what you want inside and outside the car and we have the confidence that he will do a good job; not only is he quick, he also responds well to pressure and is very level headed.
"Dave and Luke winning Bathurst was absolutely awesome and we wouldn't mind doing it again next year.”