POLL: Rating van Gisbergen’s Indianapolis NASCAR weekend

Shane van Gisbergen in his oval debut in the NASCAR Trucks Series event at Indianapolis Raceway Park. Image: Justin Casterline/Getty Images

Shane van Gisbergen in his oval debut in the NASCAR Trucks Series event at Indianapolis Raceway Park. Image: Justin Casterline/Getty Images

With Shane van Gisbergen now having raced on an oval and backed up in the NASCAR Cup Series, we ask you to rate his performance, in this week’s Pirtek Poll.

Everyone knew the three-time Supercars champion’s name – even if some commentators still struggled with pronunciation – when he returned to the United States just weeks after his debut victory on the streets of Chicago.

This time, though, van Gisbergen did not just face the challenge of his rivals’ experience at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course; he also signed up to race on the 0.686-mile (1.104-km) Indianapolis Raceway Park in the Trucks Series.

He would creep up the order in his Friday night Trucks appearance, finishing just outside the top half –19th in a 36-strong field – after qualifying 28th-fastest, starting 24th, and nosing into 15th on merit at one point.

Van Gisbergen kept his nose clean when others did not, even when he found himself three-wide on a short oval, but admitted he went the wrong way with set-up feedback ahead of his final pit stop.

A day later, the New Zealander qualified eighth at The Brickyard and went on to take the chequered flag in 10th, essentially where he ran all afternoon.

It was hardly the sensational performance of Chicago, when he carved his way through from as low as 18th to take victory.

After what was a relatively uneventful drive – notwithstanding contact with two of the Toyotas and what might have been judged a bump-and-run from fellow Chevrolet driver Alex Bowman – van Gisbergen gave a measured self-assessment.

“Although top 10 is awesome, your expectations are high because of the last race, so I just have to realise that a top 10 still pretty good,” he said, just after hopping out of the Project91 entry.

How do those performances stack up for you?

Van Gisbergen was “a little gutted” to drop off the lead lap late in the 200-lap race at IRP, and was also the beneficiary of a Free Pass just after he was lapped on the first occasion.

Still, it was literally his first day racing on an oval – and in a NASCAR ‘truck’ – with practice, qualifying, and the race packed into an eight-hour period.

Furthermore, as fellow Supercars-to-NASCAR convert Marcos Ambrose told him, even his experience of the track during afternoon practice would have differed markedly from racing under lights.

IMS was also a new challenge for SVG, although he at least had knowledge of the car and – broadly speaking – the discipline of a road course.

Dal Earnhardt Jnr suggested last week that even a mere top five would not be good enough to justify the hype.

The 26-time Cup Series race winner, now a commentator for NBC, declared on his podcast, “He needs to go to Indy, lead laps and challenge for the win.”

Van Gisbergen did not do that.

He qualified in the top 10 on a circuit which was brand-new to him just an hour earlier in practice, but virtually held station from the initial green flag to the chequered.

To be fair, passing is relatively difficult for NASCARs on the IMS road course, and he lost some ground during pit stops.

However, van Gisbergen was certainly not at his swashbuckling best, unlike in Chicago when barely anyone (Jenson Button being an exception) had street circuit experience.

How do you rate van Gisbergen’s performance over the weekend, both at IRP and IMS?

Cast your vote below in this week’s Pirtek Poll.

Pirtek Poll

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