Shane van Gisbergen immediately captured the attention of the entire NASCAR industry with his debut win at the Chicago Street Race in July. He impressed again with a top-ten finish at the Indianapolis Road Course in his second-ever start.
So when van Gisbergen expressed interest in coming to the US to compete in NASCAR full-time, that interest was reciprocated in the garage area. Fittingly, though, he’ll be competing with Trackhouse Racing, the team that gave him that first chance.
Van Gisbergen has extensive racing experience, not only competing in Supercars but also in international sports car racing, including at Daytona in the Rolex 24, and even occasional rallying. But he’s most known for his Supercars racing, which the 34-year-old has been doing for about 15 years. In that time, he’s picked up three championships and 80 race wins to date.
Moving to America means leaving his Red Bull Ampol team, but van Gisbergen says he wants the new challenge, especially since competing in NASCAR has been a longtime dream for the driver.
“This announcement means so many things to me,” he said in a press release Wednesday.
“I’m proud of what I have achieved here in Australia, but I’m excited by this new chapter in my career and the opportunities that it brings.
“I’m so thankful to everyone who has played a role in my career so far, especially Triple Eight Race Engineering, and looking forward to finishing our year with a few more highlights!
“It is time for a new challenge and this adventure into NASCAR will be the biggest challenge of my career and one I’m really looking forward to. I want to thank [owner] Justin Marks and everyone at Trackhouse Racing who have taken a chance on me and given me this opportunity. I’m excited to get to America and getting the season started.”
The opportunity for the Australian Supercars driver to race at Chicago came about as part of the team’s PROJECT91 program, devoted to giving international talent a one-off chance to compete in NASCAR. The car featured Formula One World Champion Kimi Räikkönen for two races in 2022 and early 2023, but van Gisbergen showed far greater success.
Now the exhibition driver is turning into a development driver. The team intends for van Gisbergen to compete across all three national series – Trucks, Xfinity, and Cup – in the 2024 season to get a taste of NASCAR and develop his skills.
Van Gisbergen was able to compete in a Craftsman Truck Series race during the Indianapolis Road Course weekend when that series competed at the nearby Indianapolis Raceway Park oval, finishing 19th. His Supercars background gives him an advantage in the similar-driving Cup cars on road and street courses, but running a combination of series will allow him to hone his skills on ovals and dirt.
Team owner Justin Marks emphasized in a press release that the team is curating van Gisbergen’s 2024 schedule to maximize his exposure to the massive variety of different tracks run in NASCAR.
“This is going to be a tremendous challenge for Shane but he is a tremendous driver as we have all seen,” Marks said.
“Next year will be about getting him acclimated to oval track racing, superspeedways, 1.5-mile tracks and everything he has never experienced in his career,” he detailed. “It’s obviously going to be a learning process, but we think Shane will perform quite well.”
Trackhouse Racing reasserts is worldwide presence with the move. With Daniel Suarez, the team already has a Mexican driver. Pairing him up with van Gisbergen means the team fields two of the only six foreign-born NASCAR winners throughout the sport’s history.
In just its third season of competing, the organization has already established itself as a perennial contender for the NASCAR championship, and adding a star like van Gisbergen only increases that potential.
The only challenge to expansion for the team moving forward, assuming it wants to keep Suarez, its other driver Chastain, and van Gisbergen is securing a charter. The multi-million-dollar ticket to making the field in the NASCAR Cup Series also grants additional prize money and ownership stake benefits for teams, but a limited supply pushes up their price. An expanding Trackhouse will have to invest even further in van Gisbergen if it intends to get a charter for him.
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