History against van Gisbergen after qualifying errors

16 Sep
'I feel sorry for everyone in my team for qualifying so poorly, but hopefully we can make some improvements for tomorrow’s race'
  • Van Gisbergen qualified 19th after dual errors at Sandown

  • Van Gisbergen won 2021 Sandown sprint from 17th with broken collarbone

  • Johnson/Bowe won 1994 Sandown 500 from 15th

Shane van Gisbergen and Richie Stanaway will have to defy history if they’re to overcome a lowly grid spot to win Sunday’s Penrite Oil Sandownn 500.

Van Gisbergen was left disappointed after dual errors in qualifying consigned the #97 Red Bull Ampol Camaro to 19th in qualifying.

The three-time Supercars champion kicked off his final run in qualifying with a kerb hop at the Turn 6/7/8 esses.

He then arrived at the Turn 9 Dandenong Road section seconds later and ran off onto the grass. The Kiwi had enough time to complete another lap, but opted out.

Either of van Gisbergen or co-driver Stanaway will start from the inside of Row 10 for Sunday’s 161-lap Race 23, which will commence at 2:15pm AEST.

History is against the Kiwi duo, as it is for fellow heavyweights Chaz Mostert and Lee Holdsworth in 16th; the lowest grid position for a Sandown 500 winner is 15th, when Dick Johnson and John Bowe raced from the eighth row in 1994.

Van Gisbergen off in frantic end to qualifying

Van Gisbergen does, however, have form with Sandown charges, famously racing from 17th to victory in a 2021 sprint just weeks after breaking his collarbone.

He also finished second in the 2018 race alongside Earl Bamber after starting 11th, and led the 2019 race late on after starting 24th, only to suffer a suspension failure.

Sunday looms as a key day in van Gisbergen’s title hopes, given championship leader Brodie Kostecki — who is 137 points up the road — qualified second in the Top Ten Shootout.

“It wasn’t the best day for us, unfortunately,” said van Gisbergen, who confirmed his NASCAR move on Thursday.

“I feel sorry for everyone in my team for qualifying so poorly, but hopefully we can make some improvements for tomorrow’s race.

“Richie has been amazing, and his lap times have been super impressive – he’s really fast, so it’s a shame we’re not starting further up the grid.

“Our emphasis tomorrow is to have a clean race, and the rest will sort itself out.”

ONBOARD: Brown powers to Sandown 500 pole

Stanaway scored seat time in Saturday morning’s Practice 4, handing the 31-year-old crucial laps ahead of a big first race with Triple Eight.

"I wasn’t planning on driving at all today, but I ended up getting a few laps in the fourth practice,” Stanaway said.

“For me, it was really useful to get some running in the car instead of just sitting in the garage all day.

“We had a pretty good couple of runs, but we’re still just trying to find the balance between focusing on the qualifying today and the race set-up tomorrow.

“We still haven’t settled on what we’re going to do with the race set-up tomorrow, but we’ll have a good think about it tonight and hopefully what we roll out with tomorrow is fast over a long run.”

Broc Feeney, driving with Jamie Whincup, was fifth in the Shootout in the #88 Red Bull Ampol Camaro. The Supercheap Auto wildcard of Craig Lowndes and Zane Goddard is set to start from 23rd.

Sunday’s action starts with the Warm Up 10:10am AEST, followed by the 500km race itself at 2:15pm.

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