SHANE van Gisbergen says he’s not actively pursuing a full-time NASCAR move just yet but would be well and truly tempted if the opportunity arises.
Van Gisbergen, who is committed to his Supercars contract with Triple Eight until the end of 2024, shone in his first day of competition in the Cup Series.
The Kiwi straight away topped the 37-car field in practice and almost backed that up with pole position.
All up, he qualified third for tomorrow’s race, the start time for which has been moved forward to 7:05am AEST Monday (broadcast in Australia via Fox Sports/Kayo Sports).
Having this week heard all about professional American motorsport life from his old sparring partner Scott McLaughlin, van Gisbergen spoke about why exactly NASCAR has piqued his interest.
“I guess Supercars isn’t that fun at the moment,” he said on Friday.
“I’m not really enjoying it as much and starting to think about other things and look around.
“But my motivation for Supercars is high, like I’m still trying hard and pushing as hard as I can I guess but I don’t know, it’s complicated.
“Certainly now I’ve started watching NASCAR now more again this year that the opportunity has come up and it’s appealing, like you see so many more road courses, the cars are so similar now.
“Two seasons ago the cars were so foreign, like you couldn’t jump in there straight away, you’d have to have done a couple of years of Trucks or Xfinity, like Marcos (Ambrose) did up the ladder, whereas these cars are much more relevant for any driver through the world.
“You could jump in this series and you wouldn’t be fast in your first year, it would take some time, but it looks appealing.
“They’re doing more road courses, more variation and seeing this week the routine, like you go to a race, have a day off, then you spend the week debriefing and then focus on the next race and go travelling and do it all again.
“The routine of racing every weekend is pretty appealing.
“Like it’s past mid-year now and we have only done five races in Supercars, so that’s the appeal for me, just to go try it out and race every week.
“It would be pretty cool maybe, but see how this week goes.”
Van Gisbergen has spoken of his enjoyment driving the #91 Chevrolet Camaro and notably the feel it gives him – something which he’s been vocal about the Gen3 Supercar lacking.
“I’m fully focused on Supercars for this year and next for sure but maybe if something comes up I’ll definitely entertain it,” he added.
Joining McLaughlin in IndyCar is not so much on the cards, with van Gisbergen less interested in open-wheel oval racing.
“NASCAR looks really appealing and something I would sort of jump at whereas IndyCar you’d have to think about,” he said.
“Like it’s a massive, massive change in career, driving style.
“For me, you’d have to brake with the other foot, it’s a huge departure from what I do now whereas the NASCAR stuff is massive change but not as big.”
One extra challenge for van Gisbergen’s racing debut on the Chicago Street Course is the likelihood of rain, the 34-year-old having described NASCAR’s wet tyre as being like nothing he’s seen before.
“Normally a wet tyre has the grooves outward to disperse the water,” he said.
“It looks just like an open speedway tyre with all the chunks in it, there’s no real grooves.
“But I think it’s multi-purpose, so it’s obviously for the road courses but they have started running it on ovals: they ran it on North Wilkesboro I think it was, and Martinsville in the Truck Series, and a fair bit of testing.
“When you look at it and feel it, it’s super soft. I think they said it’s that soft that at North Wilkesboro it was faster on the wet surface when it was drying than the slick was.
“It looks very interesting and different to what we have or what I have ever driven on before so if it does rain it’s going to be a quick learning experience because there’s no run-off if you do make an error here, it’s very, very difficult.”