Shane Van Gisbergen is scheduled to compete in the Feb. 17 ARCA and NASCAR Xfinity series season opening events at Daytona International Speedway.
He practiced an ARCA car for the first time in early January and was surprised how little changes affected it.
He's running a full-time Xfinity Series season and is slated to race in seven Cup Series events.
When Shane Van Gisbergen left New Zealand for a stock car racing career in the United States he brought a couple of suitcases, his girlfriend, and his dog.
A Mooresville, N.C., resident now for almost two months, his most difficult adjustment hasn’t been the food, the traffic patterns, or his new racing routine. It’s the “freaking” cold weather.
“That’s been a shock coming from summer,” Van Gisbergen says. “I’ve never really lived in a place this cold.”
At one point in North Carolina, temperatures dropped into the teens and 20s at night and didn’t get higher than 40 during the day. Other than the cold temperatures Van Gisbergen says the weather has “been awesome.”
“Lots of cool places to go training, running and stuff,” Van Gisbergen says. “Everyone’s really nice.”
In the food department, Van Gisbergen can get “most things here” that he wants, but “everything you get there’s a lot of so you gotta be disciplined I guess.” He says the culture shock in stock car racing’s capitol is “not too bad.” However, once the season begins, the New Zealander faces another “massive adjustment”, racing every week. Australia’s V8 Supercars, Van Gisbergen’s former series, has a 12-race schedule. He also must adjust to having a spotter during an event.
The 34-year-old Van Gisbergen is scheduled to compete in the Feb. 17 ARCA and NASCAR Xfinity series season opening events at Daytona International Speedway. He practiced an ARCA car for the first time in early January and was surprised how little changes affected it. He's running a full-time Xfinity Series season and is slated to race in seven Cup Series events.
“We did a lot of single car running, which the driver doesn’t have much input,” Van Gisbergen says. “We’re changing panels, flaps, little settings on the car, and it picks up time and it’s amazing. You can hear the revs rise and just little amazing details on the car make such a big difference on the track. It’s stuff that I never really feel because we’re not at such a high average speed like that. That was pretty cool.”
Van Gisbergen has competed in the Rolex 24 in a GT car, but ARCA practice provided him with a new experience on the 2.5-mile oval.
“The SIM doesn’t prepare you for the negative G into the banking,” Van Gisbergen says. “That was a pretty cool feeling. I haven’t really done much pack stuff yet, so watching those races and studying it looks nuts. Not sure what it’s gonna be like in the middle of a pack. That kind of racing is probably the most far removed from anything I’ve ever done. I have no idea what I’m in for. Kevin Harvick has been really good for advice, talking about getting safe in the car, how to look around for things. He said just be prepared. It’s going to be the biggest hits you’re ever going to take. That’s not a nice thing to hear, but it’s reality.
“Every week is gonna be a challenge and a study to try and understand what it will be like. I’m probably going to make some mistakes, crashing cars. It all looks tough. None of it looks easy.”
Van Gisbergen has watched video of previous Daytona ARCA races.
“There’s random crashes happening all the time, guys making moves being unpredictable, but it looks fun until it’s not,” Van Gisbergen says.
Van Gisbergen has never experienced the pageantry and emotional pressure surrounding the Daytona 500, so he believes it’s probably good to attend it this year as a spectator since he’s slated to compete in the prestigious event for Trackhouse Racing in 2025.
“It’s probably the biggest race in that part of the world (New Zealand and Australia) until Chicago last year,” said Van Gisbergen, who shocked the racing community in 2023 by winning the inaugural Chicago Street Course race.
It was Van Gisbergen’s Chicago victory that quickly sent his career into a whirlwind.
“It’s good to have that uncertain feeling, not knowing what it’s going to be like,” Van Gisbergen says. “Am I going to be good at ovals? Am I going to fit in here? Being outside your comfort zone, having that anticipation and uncertainty, it’s a pretty cool feeling. I’m looking forward to seeing how I fit in.”