Van Gisbergen’s Cup debut was a memorable one as he won the series’ inaugural street course race last month in Chicago driving Trackhouse Racing’s No. 91 Chevrolet Project91 entry.
With intentions to run a fulltime NASCAR schedule in 2024, van Gisbergen is running two more races this weekend – Friday night’s Truck race on the oval at Indianapolis Raceway Park and Sunday’s Cup race on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course.
Many Cup drivers have praised Van Gisbergen’s performance in Chicago, and there is anticipation for a similar display on Sunday. However, the Kiwi is uncertain about it.
“It’s a multitude of uncertainties,” van Gisbergen expressed. “You can engage in as much simulation time as you desire, but this time there is only a 20-minute practice session. Prior to Chicago, I had a brief test at the Roval followed by a 50-minute practice.”
“It will be challenging with only a few laps ahead. I will have only one set of tires during practice. I hope to progress and improve, securing a good position in qualifying, and then avoid any issues once the race begins.”
“I hope to improve and run well towards the end of the race, as it is long enough. However, I am unsure about how I will manage my pace.”
Shane van Gisbergen, Trackhouse Racing
Photo by: Owlpine Group
Unlike Chicago, which was the Cup series’ first-ever race on a street course, NASCAR drivers have plenty of experience with road course racing, and specifically on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn Indy circuit.
Due to the inclement weather in Chicago, NASCAR opted not to implement double-file restarts. However, they will be implemented for the upcoming weekend.
All drivers will experience a single modification.
The designated area for restarting the Cup and Xfinity races this weekend has been moved to the space between Turns 13 and 14. NASCAR anticipates that this change will alleviate the congestion issue that typically occurs when numerous cars enter Turn 1 on the track.
Race vehicles do not have to stay in line until they pass the start-finish line. Once vehicles exit the restart zone, they may change lanes.
“I have no expectations,” van Gisbergen stated. “Our preparation has been excellent. Clearly, I am once again driving a high-performing car that has the potential to win. Therefore, if we execute everything correctly, anything is possible. However, it will undoubtedly be challenging.”
This time, it is a well-known track and I will have to experience the double-file restarts. The location of the restarts has been altered for this week, but it remains chaotic. You will still find yourself entering Turn 1 surrounded by a large group of cars.
“I lack experience in handling such situations, but I suppose I will need to adapt quickly and learn as I go.”
Van Gisbergen was hesitant when asked if he had set the expectations too high by winning in his initial series start.
“I find it fascinating that they all recognize me now. It wasn’t the case during my previous visit,” he expressed. “My car still bears the distinctive yellow stripes on the rear, and there is still much knowledge for me to acquire.”
“I anticipate there will be a significant increase in activity. However, I do not anticipate being in a prominent position like we were in Chicago. I believe it will be more of a struggle.”
Race winner Shane van Gisbergen, Trackhouse Racing, Chevrolet Camaro
Photo by: Rusty Jarrett / NKP / Motorsport Images