Driver Shane van Gisbergen and Trackhouse Racing will take the team’s PROJECT91 adventure to another level this weekend on the streets of Chicago.
Envisioned by team owner Justin Marks as a truly international motorsports experience, PROJECT91 puts drivers who have competed in racing series across the world in Trackhouse Racing Cup Series stock cars. Van Gisbergen will be the latest to experience this new world in Sunday’s Chicago Street Race. He joins Trackhouse teammates Daniel Suarez and Ross Chastain and gives the already heavily publicized Chicago event – a first-time effort for NASCAR – an international tweak.
Marks said van Gisbergen is more than ready.
“He showed up prepared, and he’s so experienced that there’s not a lot to do,” Marks said. “He’s on the sharp end of the spear as far as global motorsports goes, and he understands it. He’ll know when to get aggressive and when to not make a lot of noise.”
A native of New Zealand, van Gisbergen, 33, is a three-time (2016, 2021, 2022) Supercars champion. He has won 78 times in the series, putting him fourth on the all-time list.
Although Sunday’s race will be his first in a Cup car, van Gisbergen finished second in the 2015 24 Hours of Daytona in the GTD class, so he’s not a total newcomer to things NASCAR.
The Chicago street course will be a difficult baptism for van Gisbergen, though, and he said he has no particular results goal in mind.
“I just want to do my best,” he said. “I’ve prepared as well as I can, and I know the Trackhouse team runs some awesome cars. … So, yeah, I have no expectations results-wise, but if I’m prepared the best I can be, we can achieve anything.”
Marks said Sunday should give van Gisbergen a chance to improve as the laps are counted.
“We’re hoping for a good practice and a good run in qualifying,” he said. “We’ll make a couple of pit stops and see where we are. He’s such a professional. He’ll take it all in. He already has that kind of mindset dialed in.
“We haven’t really talked about expectations. My goals are to execute well and for him to learn quickly and get better through the race.”
Van Gisbergen said the Cup car is similar to his Supercar entries.
“The technical side of things is pretty similar in the way the car is built,” he said. “A big, heavy car. A lot of horsepower. It’s similar to what we have.
“I’m just looking forward to it. I’m trying to keep my eyes open.”
Van Gisbergen’s team will be led by veteran crew chief Darian Grubb.