Close this search box.
Close this search box.

Does Shane Van Gisbergen’s Win Change the NASCAR Recruitment Pipeline?

Article Contents

In This Article

Picture of Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

All Posts

Let us know what you think

Join the conversation on socials

Shan Van Gisbergen shocked the NASCAR world by winning the inaugural Chicago Street Race last weekend. He hinted after the race that he may look at racing full-time in the United States as early as 2025. This opened up an interesting question about where NASCAR teams currently get their talent?

Could this win change how NASCAR goes about their recruitment of drivers? It’s hard to say, but this does open up an interesting argument. In order to look at this, let’s analyze where NASCAR can recruit from, how other drivers from some of these series have fared in NASCAR, and what made Van Gisbergen successful.

What Other Series Can NASCAR Recruit From?

There are multiple high-level racing series that NASCAR teams can look at to recruit drivers from. In the United States, they could look at IndyCar. They could choose to look at Formula One as well, and Van Gisbergen opened up the argument for Australian V8 Supercar drivers as well.

Now, it’s very hard to believe that, given the current state of NASCAR, they could lure drivers away from these series in the midst of the height of their prime. NASCAR is as big as it once was, but it is still the most popular form of motorsport in the United States.

Maybe someone who just lost a seat in Formula One could be interested in NASCAR. IndyCar drivers may be more interested in NASCAR if there is no desire to potentially race overseas. NASCAR teams could even look at IMSA as well if they so choose.

Given the fact that the Next-Gen car was highly inspired by the sports cars of IMSA, those who race in IMSA could have success in NASCAR as well. However, NASCAR teams have tried this before. Other drivers have made the jump from another motorsport to NASCAR, and the results have not been great for all.

How have Drivers from These Other Series Fared in NASCAR?

Many of these drivers have a difficult time transitioning from open wheel racing or other racing series to NASCAR. Tony Stewart is the most modern rare exception as he won a championship in the Indy Racing League, and he won three championships in NASCAR. However, most drivers tend to struggle.

Dario Franchitti, a three-time Indianapolis 500 winner and four time IndyCar Series Champion, ran a few stock car races between 2007 and 2008. He failed to record a top-10 in the Cup Series. In eighteen starts in the Xfinity Series, Franchitti had only one top-5, and by 2009, he was back in IndyCar.

Former Formula One driver Scott Speed jumped into a Red Bull Racing car in 2009. While his teammate Brian Vickers won one race and made the Playoffs, Speed was a disaster. In two seasons, he recorded only three top-10s with his best points finish being merely 30th.

Juan Pablo Montoya joined NASCAR from Formula One in 2007, and he was not terrible. He won two races, both on road courses, in seven full-time seasons, and he had a career best points finish of eighth in 2009. That’s still not a tremendous resume.

Marcos Ambrose came from the same discipline at Van Gisbergen, V8 Supercars. Ambrose won two races, both at Watkins Glen. However, he never finished better than 18th in the points standings.

A lot of NASCAR teams have tried this route before. The results are usually not great, even despite hiring some world-class level driving talent. Then, why was it that Shane Van Gisbergen ran so well on Sunday?

What Made Shane Van Gisbergen Succesful, and Is It Sustainable?

Shane van Gisbergen had more street racing experience than anyone else in the field, even guys like Jenson Button and A.J. Allmendinger. Australian V8 Supercars run on a bunch of street circuits, while NASCAR had never run on a street circuit prior to today.

On the other hand, Australian Supercars are built far more similar to NASCAR stock cars than other racing disciplines such as Formula One and IndyCar. The learning curve was probably not as steep for Van Gisbergen than it would be for someone like Jenson Button or Kimi Raikkonen. Running for a weekly race-win contending team helps too.

Add to that NASCAR drivers have never run on a street track before. It was totally new to the stars of NASCAR, and it was not new for Van Gisbergen. Van Gisbergen just happens to be one of the best street circuit racers in the world.

Now, could this be sustained? That is hard to say. Racing at ovals such as Darlington, Kansas, Daytona, Bristol, or Martinsville, are a far different skillset.

That’s part of why some drivers from other series tend to struggle. NASCAR races on different types of race tracks that most drivers have been perfecting the craft for their entire life, rather than just perfecting road course racing.

Could Van Gisbergen do the same at an oval that he did in Chicago? It would be an uphill battle for him, but it seems he’s earned an opportunity. The question is, when will it come?


Shane Van Gisbergen showed that there are race car drivers outside of the NASCAR pipeline that can win in NASCAR. Does this revolutionize how NASCAR’s feeder system works? That’s hard to argue, but it could make NASCAR teams think twice about where to find their talent.

Share this:

Picture of Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

All Posts