Van Gisbergen linked to NASCAR start
Wednesday 26th April, 2023 - 9:14am
Shane van Gisbergen has been linked with the ‘Project91’ initiative and a cameo appearance in the NASCAR Cup Series.
Project91 is the third, part-time entry from Trackhouse Racing which is earmarked for international drivers from other categories which debuted last year.
Already, it has fielded 2007 World Drivers’ Champion Kimi Raikkonen in races at Watkins Glen in 2022 and the Circuit of The Americas (COTA) last month.
It is believed that van Gisbergen is in the frame to join the programme in coming months and there are multiple feasible dates.
The Cup Series heads to Sonoma on the weekend of Sunday, June 11 and Chicago for a first ever street race on July 2, both of which fall a week before Repco Supercars Championship events at Hidden Valley and Townsville.
A Trackhouse spokesperson declined to comment when approached by Speedcafe but remarks from co-owner Justin Marks last month are consistent with a start for the three-time Supercars Champion.
“Project91 is going to race more this year,” Marks told SiriusXM.
“We’re going to have a different driver in the car the next time we’re out. We’ve closed a great sponsor for that, so the deal’s done.
“Right now, we’re just getting kind of mobilised around how we’re going to make a really cool, exciting announcement around it because I think it’s going to be really neat, it’s going to be a cool programme.
“It’s going to be somebody that has got very, very different experience from NASCAR but in some ways is actually perfectly suited for a Cup race.
“This is somebody who has not raced in America very much at all, but I think is going to be able to go to this particular race and make some real noise. I’m excited about that.”
In terms of races in the United States, van Gisbergen has a handful of IMSA starts under his belt, plus the Supercars event at COTA in 2013.
The New Zealander indicated in an interview which aired during last December’s Adelaide 500 telecast that he is not so keen on ovals compared to road courses/street circuits, but it is the latter to which Project91 is geared.
Furthermore, the Next Gen NASCAR which the Cup Series adopted in 2022 is technically similar to a Supercar, and Project91 fields Chevrolets, as does Triple Eight Race Engineering.
Van Gisbergen has just signed a new, multi-year contract with Triple Eight to drive a Red Bull Ampol Camaro Supercar for multiple years more.
However, extra-curricular activities are nothing new, with his 2022 season including debuts in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the World Rally Championship, the former of which also took place a week before the Hidden Valley Supercars event.
The 2023 Supercars season resumes this weekend with the Bosch Power Tools Perth SuperSprint at Wanneroo Raceway.
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