Monday, June 24, 2024

Shane van Gisbergen making NASCAR oval debut in IRP Trucks

Shane van Gisbergen won in his NASCAR Cup Series début on the streets of Chicago, but on 11 August will see if his prowess can translate to ovals when he enters his maiden NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park. He will drive the #41 Chevrolet Silverado RST for Niece Motorsports.

Van Gisbergen will already be in the area for the Cup race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway two days later. He hopes lightning can strike twice after becoming the first Cup newcomer to win on début since 1963 when he triumphed at Chicago in July; the New Zealander is also the sixth foreign-born Cup race winner.

“The weekend will certainly be a challenge,” said van Gisbergen. “I’ve seen the Trucks race on television and know it’s very competitive and that I’ll have a lot to learn on a short track at IRP. I’m used to doing doubleheaders in Supercars, but this will be a little bit different. I’m honoured to join Niece Motorsports and thrilled at getting a chance to climb in a truck.”

Between Chicago and Indianapolis, he returned to the Supercars Championship for the next two rounds in Townsville and Sydney. The three-time champion sits third in points and two spots behind Brodie Kostecki, who is set to run his first NASCAR race at Indianapolis.

The oval start is another log added to the growing fire that van Gisbergen would move to NASCAR full-time in 2024. Jamie Whincup, team boss for van Gisbergen’s Triple Eight Engineering, has been open about letting him leave his contract—which runs through 2024 and has an option for 2025—early to head to America if he wants, though van Gisbergen has yet to make a final decision.

Niece Motorsports is closely tied to Trackhouse Racing Team, who fields the #91 Cup car for van Gisbergen.

“We are so excited and so honoured to have Shane drive for us at IRP,” said Niece Motorsports manager Cody Efaw. “He’s a legend in Australia and New Zealand, but what he did at Chicago has everyone in America talking about his talent. We will help him experience oval racing and I am guessing we will learn a lot from him as well.”

The #41 is sixteenth in owner points with Trackhouse’s Ross Chastain and his brother Chad, Tyler Carpenter, Bayley Currey, Conor Daly, and Travis Pastrana all making starts. Currey and Ross Chastain hold its best finishes of fourth at Atlanta and COTA, respectively. Trackhouse owner Justin Marks also raced for the team in 2022.