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February 24, 2024

Shane van Gisbergen scores third-place result in second career Xfinity race at Atlanta

Shane van Gisbergen climbs out of his race car
Alex Daus

HAMPTON, Ga. – Still freshly minted to the NASCAR scene, multi-time Supercars champion Shane van Gisbergen added yet another significant highlight to his stock-car racing career Saturday at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

The New Zealand native snagged a third-place finish in his second career NASCAR Xfinity Series start, improving upon a 12th-place finish in his debut race a week ago at Daytona International Speedway.

The turn to stock cars has been rapid for van Gisbergen, who scored an electric victory in the inaugural Chicago Street Race last year in his NASCAR Cup Series debut with Trackhouse Racing. After signing full-time with Trackhouse in the offseason and being leased to Kaulig Racing for a full Xfinity Series campaign this year, the 34-year-old is off to a dream start in 2024.

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Five days after rallying from his fair share of setbacks at Daytona, he turned a clean day around Atlanta Motor Speedway for a gutsy third-place result.

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

Before a late caution with two laps to go Saturday evening, van Gisbergen ran 12th, on a clear path to match his Daytona result. However, fuel management came at a premium in the closing stages and a horde of drivers ran out of gas, including race dominator Jesse Love, who led a whopping 157 of 169 laps, including a sweep of the first two stages.

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While Atlanta’s current configuration falls under a new subgenre of superspeedway racing, van Gisbergen still had to race in a pack and use drafting-style techniques to stay toward the front of the field for the full event. He even described the race as “pretty crazy. This is like Daytona on steroids.”

During the race, van Gisbergen’s former Supercars team Red Bull Ampol Racing shouted out the Kiwi as they were partaking in their own race on the other side of the world.

Van Gisbergen returned the love to his old team as he also continues to support them.

“Well I was up until 12:30 [a.m.] last night watching them get a 1-2. Yeah, pretty special,” van Gisbergen said. “I’ve still got a lot of mates back home so yeah, pretty awesome.”

Coming up for van Gisbergen will be his first test on a non-drafting style, 1.5-mile oval at Las Vegas Motor Speedway next Saturday (5 p.m. ET, FS1, PRN Radio, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). He has competed on an asphalt oval before at Lucas Oil Raceway Park last year in the Craftsman Truck Series, but van Gisbergen says he’s more than ready for his next challenge.

“They look pretty loose on a track like that so just want to get out there and feel it,” van Gisbergen said.

Though not unheard of, it is not often that rookies in NASCAR start their seasons in the way van Gisbergen has, and there may be no one that has had a more dramatic transition to NASCAR than van Gisbergen. But so far, he has passed his first few tests with flying colors.

“Since Chicago, my life has changed completely, but yeah, I’m so stoked how this is going,” van Gisbergen said. “We’ve got some great companies onboard and just supporting me having a crack.”