When Shane van Gisbergen took the green for Friday’s NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series T-Sport 200, the New Zealand native had only made 18 laps around the 0.686-mile Indianapolis Raceway Park.
Making his first-ever oval start, Van Gisbergen was afforded a 20-minute practice session and a two-lap qualifying run prior to Friday’s 200-lap contest. Though, that important on-track time, was interrupted by three cautions and a batter issue, all in that micro-practice.
Once things were resolved, the three-time Australian Supercars champion was able to practice in 32nd place, before posting a qualifying lap good enough for 28th.
Though, when the T-SPORT 200 got underway on Friday, things were rather uneventful for the NASCAR Cup Series winner, who quickly worked his way up to 22nd after the initial start, and hovered around the top-20 throughout the majority of the evening.
When the 200-lap contest got underway on Friday, things were rather uneventful for the NASCAR Cup Series winner, who quickly worked his way up to 22nd place or so, before plateauing in and around the top-20 throughout the entire night.
Considering his lack of experience racing on any kind of oval, coupled with the fact that Friday marked his debut in the NASCAR Truck Series, the Niece Motorsports/Trackhouse Racing driver punched above his weight, beating several full-timers on the circuit.
In fact, at one point in the race, it could have been argued that Van Gisbergen was punching above the weight of the No. 41 Chevrolet Silverado, as he was battling inside the top-15 against the likes of Chase Purdy (Kyle Busch Motorsports) and Jake Drew (Hattori Racing Enterprises).
“That was awesome,” van Gisbergen said post-race. “A little gutted, ten to go, finally dropped off the lead lap, but had a ball, had some awesome racing with some people, had a lot of fun. Gotta thank Niece Motorsports, Worldwide Express, and the Trackhouse guys for having me. I’m living the dream, it was really cool. Everyone was respectful, it was awesome.”
The 34-year-old driver would begin to fade in the final stint of the event, dropping from contention inside the top-15 to scoring a 19th-place result in his oval debut at Indianapolis Raceway Park.
“I’ve got a lot to learn. Pace was okay in some spots, and I probably gave the wrong call on adjustments and we really dropped on the last stint, but so much fun,” van Gisbergen added.
One thing is certain, though. If he enjoyed what he experienced in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event on Friday, then he’ll definitely enjoy migrating his career path to a NASCAR-focused racing effort starting in 2024.