Van Gisbergen completes NASCAR test

Shane van Gisbergen has completed his only NASCAR test ahead of his debut on the Chicago street circuit. Picture: Shane van Gisbergen Twitter

Shane van Gisbergen has completed a test in the Project91 Chevrolet ahead of his NASCAR Cup Series debut this coming weekend in Chicago.

The three-time Supercars champion was able to get behind the wheel of the #91 Camaro on Charlotte’s ‘roval’ layout as part of his orientation programme.

The relatively brief outing will be van Gisbergen’s only ‘real-world’ running before hitting the streets of Windy City on Saturday afternoon (local time).

From that first practice session, it is straight into qualifying within an hour.

The New Zealander outlined the challenge when he spoke at Nashville Superspeedway just before team-mate Ross Chastain booked a Playoff berth with his first victory of the season.

“We’ve got a bit of short test,” said van Gisbergen.

“That’s just to get a feel and make sure I’m comfortable in the car and everything’s working, and then it’s all simulator stuff, really.

“I think I get two sessions in the simulator – just trying to learn and just get comfortable with the car.

“And then also the dynamic of the team with the engineers and crew chief and working out how that communication works.

“The strategy is quite different, so I have to do a lot of study on that. The pit’s closed when the yellow comes out, don’t have a pit speed speedometer and stuff like that, so just learning how to manage that side of the race. It’s quite different.

“Then obviously, we’re not racing for points, so we don’t have to focus on the stages and stuff like that.

“[We’re] going to come in and do our best, but also have to race with respect, as well. These guys are fighting for a championship every week. But yeah, got to come in and try to stay out of trouble I guess, too.”

SVG took to Twitter after the test to write, “Today was awesome, first time driving the [Project91] car.

“Lots of laps, tried a few things to get a bit more comfortable and feeling more confident ahead of the weekend!”

At this stage, this is likely to be the 34-year-old’s only NASCAR opportunity of the year, with no more Project91 entries locked in and Trackhouse Racing owner Justin Marks nominating Watkins Glen, which clashes with Supercars’ The Bend event, as the most likely addition to the programme.

However, van Gisbergen could be tempted to try an oval race one day.

“We had a small chat about that earlier,” he revealed at Nashville.

“I’ve never really thought about ovals too much, but yeah, you’d love to have a go at it.

“Like, watching yesterday and how committed the guys were in qualifying… they had the practice and then you sit around all day and you get one lap.

“To see how committed everyone was and see who was braver than the others into Turn 1, it was pretty cool to watch.

“It sucked watching, I wanted to be out there. So, yeah I’d want to have a go at it one day.”

Practice on the Chicago street circuit starts on Sunday at 03:30 AEST, followed by Qualifying at 04:30 AEST.

The Race itself is scheduled for Monday at 07:30 AEST.

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