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Sunday, May 26, 2024


MARCOS Ambrose has become the latest qualified commenter to declare Shane van Gisbergen would be a smash hit in NASCAR.

Earlier this month, Joe Gibbs Racing crew chief James Small called on NASCAR team owners to take a punt on the man who is currently on course to chalk up his third Repco Supercars Championship crown.

Small has enjoyed his fair share of success both Down Under and in the US, engineering Mark Winterbottom/Steven Richards to victory in the 2013 Bathurst 1000 and guiding Martin Truex Jr to numerous wins in the Cup Series.

Ambrose has now doubled down on Small’s train of thought.

The 46-year-old headed Stateside in the mid-2000s after clinching two Supercars titles and went on to become the only Australian to win a NASCAR race.

Ambrose first tasted victory in the second-tier Xfinity Series in 2008 before twice winning in the Cup Series – on both occasions at Watkins Glen.

Never before has a Kiwi won in NASCAR. Van Gisbergen is already broadening his horizons, making his World Rally Championship debut next week at the Repco Rally New Zealand. He also competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.

Shane van Gisbergen

Unlike Brodie Kostecki, van Gisbergen hasn’t publicly flagged a desire to chase the NASCAR dream, but Ambrose believes it could serve him well.

“He has proved one of the best of all-time here in Australia,” Ambrose told V8 Sleuth.

“He is still young enough and he loves his racing and I’m sure the Americans would take to him if he went over there and had a go at it.

“It is tough to break in, that’s all, it would be a big commitment to have a go because you would have to give up a lot here.

“It would be fun to see how he would go. There’s no guarantee of success but he has done so well in everything he has done that I can’t see why he wouldn’t do well.

“NASCAR has changed a lot since I was there. You used to do two road races a year, now they have got a lot more, so there are a lot more chances.

“It makes no difference whether you’re American, Australian, English, whatever; results matter over there and speed matters and talent matters. Shane has got all of that so I’m sure he would do great if he decided to go.”

Stubbornness was one of the keys to making the transition work for Ambrose.

Marcos Ambrose (left) with Barry Rogers. Pic: Australian Racing Group

Similarly, Scott McLaughlin had to dig in through an up-and-down first full IndyCar season last year before truly shining in his second campaign.

“Firstly, you have got to want to do it. You need to be pretty stubborn and committed to go and try,” said Ambrose.

“When I went over I just used it as something brand new and I just treated it like I was starting from scratch, which I really was.

“So the mindset first, then fight hard for opportunities and try to make it stick when you get a chance.

“Shane is a world-standard driver, I’m sure he would get opportunities if he put his name in the ring.

“But he’s on a good wicket here too don’t forget: he’s winning races, he’s in a great team, he’s winning championships, so that would be pretty hard to give up.”

Van Gisbergen could put the 2022 Supercars title beyond doubt by the end of the Repco Bathurst 1000 on October 6-9.

To do so, he would need to lead by 600 points at the completion of the Great Race.

As it stands, only Cameron Waters is within that range, sitting 525 points behind the #97 Red Bull Ampol Racing driver.

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