SVG trying to keep Supercars focus as NASCAR debut awaits

Shane van Gisbergen has a NASCAR start coming in June

Shane van Gisbergen has a NASCAR start coming in June

Shane van Gisbergen says his focus is on Supercars until such time that he jets off to the United States for his NASCAR debut.

Van Gisbergen will contest NASCAR’s Chicago street race on the weekend of Sunday, July 2 in Trackhouse Racing’s Project91 entry which was created for the purpose of bringing foreign talent into the Cup Series for cameo appearances.

Before then, he has to get through the remainder of this weekend’s Ned Whisky Tasmania SuperSprint and then the Betr Darwin Triple Crown on June 16-18, during which time he will try to lift himself out of the unusual situation of being anywhere other than at the top of the points table.

“It’s cool, but I’m trying to keep my head focused on this weekend and I’ll think about that [NASCAR] when the time comes,” said the Red Bull Ampol Racing driver.

“But yeah, it’s obviously very special to be able to jump into that top series and a good car – it doesn’t happen too often anymore – but I’ve got to get better here first.”

How the three-time Supercars champion fares in the world’s premier stock car competition is an intriguing question.

Van Gisbergen has proven highly adaptable, his record including a title in the GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup in 2016 and a WRC2 podium in his World Rally Championship debut last year.

This year’s Chicago NASCAR event being its first ever on a street circuit, one school of thought is that there is no better time for the New Zealander to make an impression in the category.

The man himself is far more reserved about his chances, noting the relative prevalence of road courses on the Cup Series calendar nowadays.

“I guess it’s hard to just jump in on one race, especially [because] they do more than one a year so they’re pretty sharp,” he reasoned.

“I’ve obviously taken notice, the last couple of months, and tried to watch. Like, they’re not billies [billygoats], it’s not like there are only two or three good road course racers anymore.

“Like, the top 10, 15 guys can drive and turn right now, so it’s going to be very difficult.”

Van Gisbergen rose from ninth on the starting grid to finish third in Race 10 of the Repco Supercars Championship at Symmons Plains, although he maintains that the drive belied his true pace, or relative lack thereof.

Qualifying for today’s races begins this morning from 09:50 local time/AEST.

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