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Could Shane Van Gisbergen Really Succeed in NASCAR Full-Time?

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The rumors of SVG racing in NASCAR have increased over the weekend. Australian Supercars website recently reported that SVG is looking to potentially join NASCAR in 2024.

We’ve discussed who SVG could race for next season, but a legitimate question can be asked about how good he could really be in stock cars? Sure he won in his first career start at the Chicago Street Race, but could he find the same success at other tracks on the NASCAR schedule?

Adapting to The Cars

The Next-Gen car has received inspiration from different racing series. NASCAR took some of the philosophy of the France family’s sports car series, IMSA, but they also took a lot from Australian Supercars. Both cars, coincidentally, are cars that SVG has raced and won before.

Not only is SVG an 80-time winner and three time champion in Australian Supercars, but he has also had some success in IMSA as well. He has run in seven career races in IMSA’s GT Daytona category, with a second place class finish at the 2015 Rolex 24 at Daytona. Long story short, SVG knows how to run stock cars.

If he were to make the move to any United States racing series, NASCAR would probably be the best place for him to run. He could maybe go to IndyCar and follow former Supercars competitor Scott McLaughlin, but some drivers are apprehensive about the safety of driving in IndyCar. Maybe he could go to IMSA, but he would probably be mired in the GT category only running 11 races per season.

NASCAR would give him the most races to run in combined with the most eyeballs on him and the most familiar race car. The learning curve would be much less steep for SVG if he came to NASCAR rather than other racing series for that reason. However, the car is far from the only thing that SVG will have to adapt to.

Adapting to The Tracks

Australian Supercars race exclusively on road courses and street circuits. SVG has no professional racing experience on ovals, and, as a result, he could have some issues adapting to racing on ovals. He would not be the first Supercars driver to attempt the jump to NASCAR, and the tale of the last one to make that jump could be a cautionary tale.

Marcos Ambrose ran in six full-time seasons in the NASCAR Cup Series from 2009 through 2014. Of his 18 career top-5 finishes in the Cup Series nine of them came on road courses. He never finished better than 18th in the points standings either.

Long story short, Ambrose struggled to adapt to ovals in NASCAR. Racing on ovals is a totally different beast than racing on road courses and street circuits. Part of the reason why SVG ran so well on the streets of Chicago was because of his experience both in the rain and on street tracks. Where SVG took advantage of NASCAR driver’s lack of street course experience, the NASCAR drivers can take advantage of SVG’s lack of oval racing experience.

Would he be able to race well at a short track like Martinsville or a superspeedway like Daytona or an intermediate like Las Vegas? That is by no means a guarantee, and it would take him some time to adapt to it. However, one other factor in Ambrose’s career could be better in the instance of SVG.

Ambrose spent his career racing for both JTG-Daugherty and Richard Petty Motorsports. Both teams were not top equipment, even back then. SVG has the potential to jump into some better equipment if he can drive for someone like Stewart-Haas Racing or maybe even Trackhouse, the team he won at Chicago with.

This is the biggest adaptability issue for SVG. Can he learn how to race on the typical race tracks that the Cup Series goes to week-in and week-out? Or, is he merely a road course specialist?

Adapting to The Style of Racing

NASCAR is a much different style of racing than other forms of motorsports. It’s much more aggressive with more car-to-car contact, and that is something that is tough to adapt to. Even Jenson Button mentioned how surprised he was about the aggressiveness of Cup Series drivers after the COTA race.

Now, Australian Supercars are similar to NASCAR stock cars, and that means they have the ability to race that way, but NASCAR outright encourages that type of contact. It’s just a part of the sport, and those who grow to either love it or just use it for their advantage tend to be successful.

Will SVG be able to learn and adapt to that style of racing? It seems more likely given where he is coming from. It is probably easier than when coming from a sport like Formula One or IndyCar, but it still could be an adjustment. Especially given the fact that many NASCAR drivers grew up driving on short tracks around the country.

They grew up with this mentality. Did SVG grow up racing with this type of mentality? That is not for certain, and it could make for an interesting adaptation.

Also adapting to the drafting type of racing seen at tracks like Daytona or Talladega or Atlanta is an entirely different ballgame. Arguably even more challenging than the short tracks.

If SVG makes the move to NASCAR, it will be interesting to see how he adapts to the series. It’s not going to be as smooth of a transition as it was seemingly at the Chicago Street Race.

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Picture of Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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