Shane van Gisbergen: ‘I was Just Smiling the Whole Time’ at Atlanta

By Seth Eggert, Associate Editor

Former Repco SuperCars driver Shane van Gisbergen is proving to be a quick study in NASCAR as he earned a top-five finish in his third career paved oval start.

Van Gisbergen started the final stage of the RAPTOR King of Tough 250 inside the top-10. A lengthy run single-file that prompted a fuel mileage race saw the No. 97 WeatherTech Chevrolet Camaro SS running just outside the top-10. The Kiwi moved up to ninth as Cole Custer and Riley Herbst ran out of fuel in the closing laps. The caution waved as two other Ford Performance drivers, Hailie Deegan and Ryan Sieg ran out of fuel.

Shane van gisbergen was all smiles as he earned his first career top-five finish in the nascar xfinity series.
Shane van Gisbergen. (Photo by Blake Ulino/Kickin’ the Tires)

The NASCAR Xfinity Series field faced a split decision with van Gisbergen being in the majority, opting to pit for more fuel. When the race restarted in overtime, several drivers, including race leaders Justin Allgaier, Jesse Love, and Parker Kligerman ran out of fuel. The Kaulig Racing driver quickly jumped from eighth to third. Sandwiched between two Joe Gibbs Racing drivers, van Gisbergen battled Chandler Smith as he blocked Sheldon Creed. Ultimately the New Zealander took the checkered flag in third.

“It was pretty wild,” van Gisbergen said. “We had come in to pit. We saved a bit of fuel, but we had come in anyway and it was obviously the right call. What an awesome feeling just running and trying to block those guys up front. I was just smiling the whole time; it was pretty cool.”

The narrow confines of Atlanta Motor Speedway combined with superspeedway traits made the race wild for van Gisbergen. Adding to the craziness, the No. 97 team had him pit a second time at the end of Stage 1 to make adjustments based on lessons from his teammate Josh Williams.

Next for van Gisbergen is the Xfinity Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (LVMS). The 1.5-mile intermediate track is the first ‘core’ NASCAR track that the three-time SuperCars champion will have competed at. Intermediate tracks, including the hybrid of Atlanta, make up over one quarter of the Xfinity Series schedule.

“This is like Daytona on steroids,” van Gisbergen observed. “I’m looking forward to next week, I guess that’s a core NASCAR track. They look pretty loose on a track like that, and I want to get out there and feel it. To have some practice would be nice too.”

While van Gisbergen was racing at Atlanta, his old Repco SuperCars team, Red Bull Ampol Racing, were watching the action while competing in the Thrifty Bathurst 500. The 34-year-old has stayed up to watch his friends compete over the past weekend as well. The driver and his former team may be a world apart, but still support one another.

“I was up to 12:30 a.m. the last time watching (my old SuperCars team) get a 1-2,” van Gisbergen said. “It’s special. I still have a lot of mates back home, pretty awesome.”

The third-place finish marks van Gisbergen’s third top-10 finish across NASCAR’s three national touring series. It’s his first career top-five finish in the Xfinity Series.

The top-five finish moved van Gisbergen from 13th in points up to ninth. He is 43-points behind leader, and race winner, Austin Hill. Van Gisbergen is three points ahead of the playoff cutoff, currently held by both Allgaier and Custer.

The Xfinity Series race at Las Vegas is scheduled for Saturday, March 2 at 5:00 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1. The race will also be broadcast on the Performance Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.

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