SVG braced for steep NASCAR oval learning curve

07 Aug
Kiwi to make oval debut ahead of second Cup Series start
2 mins by James Pavey

Shane van Gisbergen says his NASCAR oval debut will be a “steep learning curve” as the Kiwi readies for double duties this weekend.

Van Gisbergen has arrived in the United States ahead of his second NASCAR Cup Series start with Trackhouse Racing’s Project91 program.

The Supercars champion made headlines when he won on his Cup Series debut on the streets of Chicago last month.

Van Gisbergen and Erebus Motorsport driver Brodie Kostecki (Richard Childress Racing) will compete at Indianapolis this weekend in the third-to-last regular season Cup Series race of 2023.

The Supercars rivals will share the grid with 2009 Formula One champion Jenson Button (Rick Ware Racing) and ex-F1 and Le Mans winner Kamui Kobayashi (23XI Racing).

Van Gisbergen also secured a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series cameo with Niece Motorsports, which will be the Kiwi’s competitive oval debut.

Friday’s race will be crucial oval experience for van Gisbergen amid rumours the two-time Bathurst winner could shift to NASCAR from 2024.

It comes after revelations that van Gisbergen could be replaced at Triple Eight by Erebus Motorsport star Will Brown next season.

"I’ve never really thought about ovals too much but I’ve always said I would love to have a go and I guess Friday night I'll get my shot," van Gisbergen said.

"It's going to be a steep learning curve no doubt.”


Van Gisbergen spent Monday doing seat fittings and working in the Niece and Trackhouse race shops.

The 34-year-old, along with Kostecki, Button and Kobayashi, will play key roles in the Indy race as a number of full-time Cup drivers desperately aim to secure playoff berths.

The 79-time Supercars race winner knows Indy offers a greater challenge than Chicago, given it isn’t as foreign to the stars of the Cup Series.

Given the pressure of an ongoing NASCAR title fight, van Gisbergen is keen to stay out of trouble and run his own race.

"This whole NASCAR experience has been a dream come true," van Gisbergen said.

"I can't wait to get to America then Indy. It will certainly be different than the Chicago Street Course.

"I'll need to get up to speed quickly, but we plan a lot of simulator time and I know Darian [Grubb, crew chief] will be thoroughly prepared for Indy.

"We have got to come in and do our best, but you also have got to race with respect as well. These guys are fighting for their championship every week, so I have got to come in and stay out of trouble."

Van Gisbergen and Kostecki will return to Australia after the Indy race for next weekend's OTR SuperSprint. Tickets are on sale now.

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