In his first laps behind the wheel of a Next Gen Camaro ZL1, Shane Van Gisbergen proved to be an early contender as the Chevrolet driver gears up for his NASCAR Cup Series (NCS) debut in the series’ first-ever street course race. The three-time Supercars Champion quickly topped and maintained the top position of the speed chart as NASCAR’s premier series took on the streets of Chicago for a 50-minute practice session. The Auckland, New Zealand, native followed up a strong practice session by posting the third-fast lap in qualifying in the No. 91 Enhance Health Camaro ZL1 to lead the Bowtie brand to the green flag as the series is set to make history in tomorrow’s Grant Park 220.
Joining Van Gisbergen with a top-10 qualifying effort includes Trackhouse Racing teammate Daniel Suarez, who posted a fifth-place qualifying effort in his No. 99 Worldwide Express Camaro ZL1. Hendrick Motorsports’ Kyle Larson (No. 5 HendrickCars.com Camaro ZL1) qualified in the seventh-position, with Kaulig Racing’s AJ Allmendinger (No. 16 Bath Plant by BCI Acrylics Camaro ZL1) rounding out the Team Chevy top-10.
SHANE VAN GISBERGEN, NO. 91 ENHANCE HEALTH CAMARO ZL1
VAN GISBERGEN ON THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN AN AUSTRALIAN SUPERCAR AND NASCAR CUP CAR:
“Well I sit on the other side of the car, so that’s the hardest thing. And just the wall where the fence is - I ended up hitting the wall at the end with the right front, so just misjudging the wall because the whole car is on the other side. That’s probably the most difficult thing.”
WITH THE FOOT WORK AND ALL THAT STUFF, IS THAT PRETTY SIMILAR?
“Yeah, it feels the same.”
SO DOES IT FEEL LIKE A SUPERCAR BECAUSE PEOPLE SAY THAT THIS IS KIND OF A SUPERCAR GTD HYBRID, IS THAT FAIR?
“It’s kind of in the middle of last year’s Supercar and this years one. It’s better, it’s quite cool. It’s very stiff and low, and touches a lot. They’re very different step-up philosophy-wise, I guess, but similar in a lot of ways too.”
WHEN YOU GO INTO THIS RACE, DO YOU LOOK AT YOURSELF AS A LEGIT CONTENDER IN YOUR FIRST-EVER CUP RACE?
“I never think like that. But I do know our preparation has been good and our team is capable, so I just have to do the job.”
THE POTENTIAL OF RAIN – IS THAT SOMETHING THAT WORRIES YOU OR ARE YOU COMFORTABLE ENOUGH DOING THAT?
“Yeah – looking at the rain tires, it’s much different than anything I’ve ever driven before. There’s no grooves and the compound feels very soft. And then the concrete – I don’t think I’ve ever driven on concrete in the rain, so it’ll be tough.”
HOW HAVE THE OTHER DRIVERS BEEN TO YOU?
“It’s been pretty awesome. Everyone has been really nice and welcoming. It’s been good to chat with the front guys who I’ll be racing with tomorrow. It’s been really cool. My teammates (Ross Chastain and Daniel Suarez) have been helpful, as well. They’re trying to talk about the car; brake settings we have and stuff. Everyone has been really open, it’s awesome.”
DANIEL SUAREZ, NO. 99 WORLDWIDE EXPRESS CAMARO ZL1
WHAT DO YOU EXPECT FOR TOMORROW - CHAOS OR DO YOU THINK YOU GUYS WILL SETTLE INTO A RHYTHM AS LONG AS THE RACE IS?
“I wish I knew.. I don’t really know. I just hope I’m up front. If they want to make it chaos in the back, that’s fine.. they can do whatever they want. We’re starting in the top-five, so hopefully we can get a position or two; get into the top-three and have a good race. Hopefully we have good pace. Hopefully we can get the strategy correctly, pit stops and go to the front. I think that we will be contenders. I’m happy where we’re at. I’m not satisfied, but I’m happy. I feel like there’s a couple things that I have to work on myself and there’s a couple things that we need to work on the car. But overall, it’s a pretty good start.”
DID YOU FIND THAT WHAT YOU GUYS DID IN THE SIMULATOR MATCHED UP PRETTY WELL TO WHAT IT WAS LIKE IN REAL LIFE OUT THERE ON THE TRACK IN PRACTICE AND QUALIFYING, IN TERMS OF WHAT THINGS WERE LIKE AND WHAT YOU WERE FEELING?
“I think it did for the most part, honestly. I think the simulator was very realistic. A few little things different here and there, especially because NASCAR added some tire barriers, so some corners got a little bit tighter. But I feel like everything that we did during the week and the last couple of weeks, it’s been very close. Like I said, we still have a little bit of work to do, but I feel like we’re in the ballpark.”
WHEN YOU’RE OUT THERE, ARE YOU BLOCKING OUT THE CITY SCAPE, BUILDINGS OR ANYTHING LIKE THAT?
“(Laughs) We have so much going on between bumps, braking zones and stuff like that – everything that I’m looking at is my dash, the wall, a couple of braking marks and that’s it.”
CAN YOU SEE THE ADVERTISEMENTS?
“I can see them, but I’m not paying attention to them, you know what I mean. Like I know that they’re there, but if you asked me – hey, what does it say there, I don’t know. I know there’s something there (laughs).”
WITH UTILIZING EVERY SPOTTER STAND IN THE 90 DEGREE TURNS, HOW MANY OF THEM ARE BLIND CORNERS? HOW OFTEN DO SPOTTERS HELP YOU AND HOW OFTEN ARE YOU JUST KIND OF FIGURING IT OUT ON YOUR OWN?
“I think 80 percent of the time, you’re on your own. I think the spotters are there for the most part to help you when there’s wrecks. If somebody wrecks in front of you, 50 percent of the track is going to be blocked most likely, so they’re there for that. For the ‘inside, outside’ – their views are not great. We have an amazing rearview camera that can help better than the spotters sometimes. But I have three of them and all three of them are doing a hell of a job, so far.”