Van Gisbergen’s learning curve continues in Xfinity Series

Shane van Gisbergen has been grinding away in his rookie NASCAR Xfinity Series season and hasn’t paid much attention to where he stacks up within the field.

“I haven’t really looked at the points too much,” van Gisbergen said Friday at Darlington Raceway. “Obviously you want to make the playoffs, and road courses are my best shot with that, but being able to point my way in would be amazing as well. I think my position in 15th is probably better than my pace at the moment — that’s just from being consistent and finishing all the laps.

“Hopefully that helps me later on and we can get closer to pointing our way in, and if we win a race, we’ll be in as well. I don’t really have expectations or a goal for myself. I just want to keep learning and getting better and do the right thing, so that gets me in a seat in the Cup Series next year.”


There are four road course races left in the Xfinity Series regular season: Portland (June 1), Sonoma (June 8), Chicago (July 6), and Watkins Glen (Sept. 14). The postseason grid will be made up of 12 drivers, and five have already clinched a spot through a victory.

After 10 races, van Gisbergen is 15th in the standings with two top-10 finishes and 21 laps led. An engine failure at Las Vegas Motor Speedway is the only race van Gisbergen wasn’t running in at the finish. He has completed 1,603 of 1,777 laps (90.2 percent).

“It’s amazing that I’ve done almost as much as I would have done in Australia already [at this point in] the year. It’s pretty cool,” the Kiwi said. “We had some really good results at the start of the year, which probably makes the last few weeks seem not as good. But for me, I just want to be completing every lap, which means finishing on the lead lap, straight car, and we’ve been achieving that.

“I’m competitive by nature, so I want to be getting good results soon and there are some good tracks coming up for me. I want to succeed at the ovals, too, and get better there.”

Atlanta Motor Speedway saw him finish third — a superspeedway-style track. The team capitalized when it came down to fuel mileage as the race went past its scheduled distance. A sixth-place finish at Phoenix Raceway is van Gisbergen’s best finish on a traditional oval. He has averaged a 20th-place running position in eight of 10 races (Las Vegas and Dover the exceptions).

“It’s been pretty tough. It’s been really good, though,” van Gisbergen said of the season. “A lot of fun, a lot of learning, and I’m loving racing every week and a different challenge every week. This stretch of races is probably what we singled out as the most difficult: Dover and Texas and this place (Darlington), and then the Coke 600 in a couple of weeks. I’ve got some pretty tough weeks here, but I feel like we’re getting through it OK.

“Obviously we want to be a bit quicker… [For my] first time at these tracks, [staying clean is] sort of the goal, and then toward the end of the year, especially when we come back to these places, we’ll try to push for better results. I’ve been enjoying it, been having some great races with people and ending most weeks with a smile on my face.”

This weekend at Darlington Raceway, he’ll start from the 17th position, with the first laps on track coming at the green flag after rain canceled practice and qualifying.

Story originally appeared on Racer