Shane van Gisbergen gets through 'crazy' experience at Daytona

HAMPTON, Ga. — Shane van Gisbergen has never had a weekend like last week at Daytona International Speedway.

The three-time Australian Supercars champion, who is competing full-time in NASCAR this year, said he was involved in seven separate accidents between competing in both the Xfinity and ARCA races last weekend.

Last year, in the Supercars Series, van Gisbergen said he was involved in “two or three” accidents.

“It’s crazy,” he said of what he experienced at Daytona.

That’s superspeedway racing. Tight racing leads to close action and multi-car crashes. He’ll get more of that this weekend with the NASCAR Xfinity Series racing at 5 p.m. ET Saturday at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

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“It’s just the style of that racing and something I have to accept,” van Gisbergen said Friday of superspeedway racing. “You got to run the risk of getting that good result, but you’re probably going to get into a crash.

“It’s an amazing mindset to go racing when it’s something I’ve never had to do before — go into a race thinking it’s 50-50 whether you crash or you don’t. It’s pretty different.”

Van Gisbergen competed in both the Xfinity and ARCA events last week at Daytona to gain experience since he had not run a NASCAR superspeedway event before. He finished 12th in the Xfinity race. He was 29th in the ARCA race.

The start of the ARCA race proved memorable for van Gisbergen.

“We needed to clear some people,” said van Gisbergen, who started at the rear of the field. “So, the first lap I was three-wide on the tri-oval s———- myself. Got around (Turns) 1 and 2 and cleared everyone and (I was like) ‘Man, that was awesome.’”

He said he tried not to have any preconceived notions going into last weekend.

“I did as much studying as I could, got a lot of advice for good people, but until you feel when you’re out there — you're going like three seconds a lap faster when you’re in the pack and when you are the fourth or fifth car there is just no air and you’re sliding around like crazy. It’s like drifting into the corners at 300 (kilometers per hour), 180 (mph), whatever it is in your language.

“It’s a crazy feeling. Until you feel, you don’t really know.”

With a week of experience, how might that help him at Atlanta?

“Just knowing how to place the car to get air on it to change the balance and grip and how to stay in line,” van Gisbergen said. “Learning the proximity of the car to wall on the right side. It took me a while to know where the right side of the car was, just learning the width of the car. I hadn’t really driven around people. We did some single-file stuff in practice but no double-file. I was always giving a little bit too much space than I should have early on.”