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How SVG is preparing for Daytona debut

SHANE van Gisbergen knows he will be jumping in at the deep end when he embarks on his first full NASCAR Xfinity Series season in 2024.

The departing Supercars icon revealed a 40-race schedule for his debut season in America earlier this week, featuring seven Cup Series races for Trackhouse Racing slotted around a full-season campaign in NASCAR’s second-tier series with Kaulig Racing.

The opening round is a 300-mile race at Daytona International Speedway, which will give van Gisbergen his first taste of racing a stock car on a superspeedway.

He won’t have much practice time to adapt to racing at close quarters in large packs at high speed.

Traditionally, the Xfinity Series gets just a half-hour practice session on the afternoon prior to the race, with single-car qualifying taking place a few hours before the race itself.

“It’s going to be a tough first race,” van Gisbergen told media in a press conference on Friday.

“I don’t really know how to approach it or what to expect. We get a little bit of practice so I can get a feel for the car and cars around me at that speed, but that style of racing, it’s so far removed from everything I’ve ever done.

“Superspeedways is probably what I’m most anxious about, I guess, or unsure about what’s going to happen or how the cars race.”

Knowing his real-life seat time will be limited, van Gisbergen is trying to absorb information from a wide variety of sources to help make the learning curve less steep.

“I’ve been trying to study it as much as I can,” he said.

“There was a Denny Hamlin onboard from, I think it was last year’s Talladega race where he had to come back through the field. I’ve been studying that just trying to see how it all works.

“Obviously I’ll get (to see some) data and see more of the driver inputs, but watching that is like a high-speed chess match but also a lottery, in some ways.

“I’ve been doing as much (virtual laps) as I can. A lot on iRacing and then in the new year, once the sim starts, I’ll be on there and watching all the sessions I can to try and gain as much experience as possible.”

When asked just how he’d fared in races at Daytona and Talladega on iRacing, he smiled: “I’ve crashed a lot and won a couple of times too!”

Van Gisbergen hailed the NASCAR community for welcoming him with open arms, with retiring Cup Series legend Kevin Harvick among those to reach out.

“He’s been a great help with just basic advice, being comfortable in the car and being well strapped-in,” SVG said.

“He said I’ll have hits bigger than I’ve ever had before, which is not nice to hear but it’s a true fact!

“I have to be ready for that and be comfortable and safe in the car. I’m going to have to change my feet and the way I fit in the car to be more acclimatised and safe on the ovals.

“That’s just part of it and making sure that the seat is the same in the Xfinity car so I can slot between one and the other and be comfortable and in the same driving position. Just little stuff like that I don’t normally think about.

“Those guys have been super-helpful and everyone I’ve talked to has been awesome.”

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