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Shane van Gisbergen: “Learned a Lot” After Seven Crashes at Daytona

Shane van Gisbergen Atlanta 2024 NASCAR Xfinity Series Kaulig Racing

Photo Credit: Craig White, TobyChristie.com

While Shane van Gisbergen burst onto the NASCAR scene by winning in his NASCAR Cup Series debut in the inaugural Chicago Street Race last season, the Australian Supercars legend didn’t sail quite as smoothly to kick off his 2024 stock car racing schedule last weekend at Daytona International Speedway.

Still, SVG says that he learned a lot of what not to do, which in superspeedway racing is a very valuable thing.

“It was a pretty full-on weekend for me. I learned a lot,” van Gisbergen, who competed in the NASCAR Xfinity Series race and the ARCA Menards Series race at Daytona said. “I got involved in seven crashes, and only one was my fault, really. But I just tried to analyze every one [of the crashes], and of the six I got involved in I couldn’t figure out a way I could have done things differently. It’s just the style of that racing and something I have to accept. You have to run the risk of getting that good result, but you’re probably going to get into a crash. It’s an amazing mindset to go racing with. Something I’ve never had to do before, go into a race thinking it’s 50/50, whether you’ll crash or you won’t. It’s pretty different.”

SVG also chalks up his rough outings at Daytona to being a rookie. As the season rolls along, the racer will attempt to accrue more and more consistency, and if he is dealt the right cards, perhaps he’ll score a win.

“Part of being a rookie makes accepting [crashing] easier. I just have to settle in and shoot for top-15s, then top-10s,” van Gisbergen stated. “Try to get some consistency. When you look at even the top guys results last year, they’re all over the place week-to-week. It’s a very different way to approach races.”

Heading into Daytona International Speedway, van Gisbergen watched film, and picked the brains of several drivers as he attempted to mentally prepare himself for what Daytona, and superspeedway racing in general, would be like. However, understanding how the car would work in the draft was a very difficult challenge for a novice in the NASCAR world.

“I did as much studying as I could and got a lot of advice from good people. But until you feel when you’re out there, and you’re going like three seconds a lap faster when you’re in the pack, and when you’re the fourth or fifth car there’s just no air,” van Gisbergen explained. “And you’re sliding around like crazy. It’s like drifting into the corners at 180. It’s a crazy feeling, and until you feel it, you don’t really know.”

While the superspeedway style racing is a different beast than van Gisbergen is used to, did the native of New Zealand feel the races at Daytona were fun to compete in?

“One of the races was. The other wasn’t,” van Gisbergen chuckled.

If you’re keeping score at home, SVG enjoyed the NASCAR Xfinity Series event, not the ARCA Menards Series race, where he was wiped out on Lap 3, and had to finish the race out as a relief driver for another team. Would SVG entertain running more ARCA events this year?

“I’ve got my license now, so hopefully not,” van Gisbergen quipped.

The driver would immediately walk back the comments a little bit by saying the car was fun, and his team was fun to work with, but things just got really hairy, really quickly in the ARCA Menards Series event at Daytona.

“I had never gone two-wide before. And my spotter was awesome and he was a bit pushing me more than I wanted to to start with. But it was good, we needed to clear some people. [On] The first lap, I was three-wide in the trioval, shitting myself, and then I got around [Turns] 1 and 2 and cleared everyone and man that was awesome,” van Gisbergen recalled. “And then I saw everyone swapping lanes, and I was too far ahead. I think we had already gotten into the top-20, so I couldn’t really get out at that point. It was just mayhem the rest of the race. Just lapping, I stayed well off the back of the pack, and still got involved in stuff.”

By suffering seven crashes at Daytona alone, SVG recorded two-to-three-or-more crashes than he suffered throughout the entire 2023 Australian Supercars Series season in just one race weekend. However, SVG is excited to see how durable the NASCAR Xfinity Series car is. It takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’.

“I think I had two or three [crashes] last year. It’s crazy. Our cars last year, especially were just made out of glass,” van Gisbergen said. “Like I thought my race was over, especially in Xfinity. I got out in the end, and I expected it to be ruined and it wasn’t too bad. The suspension was bent, and the fenders were pushed in, but it didn’t look as bad as I thought. Like the cars are so tough here. It’s pretty impressive what they can take.”

The Australian Supercars season kicked off this week, but with his NASCAR schedule in full swing, SVG was forced to watch the events on television. While it stings not being in the series where he made a name for himself, he feels that he truly made the move that was the right one for his overall racing career by jumping to NASCAR in 2024.

“It was a shame to miss it,” van Gisbergen admitted, “but I guess I had fun. I feel like I belong here. I feel like I’ve definitely done the right thing for my career and racing enjoyment. I’m not missing it, I don’t feel like.”

Shane van Gisbergen will attempt to apply the lessons learned from a 12th-place finish at Daytona International Speedway a week ago this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway, and in doing so, he will hope to get his NASCAR Xfinity Series rookie of the year campaign started off on the right foot.

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