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How High Is Shane van Gisbergen’s Ceiling?

#97: Shane Van Gisbergen, Kaulig Racing, WeatherTech Chevrolet Camaro

“You had my curiosity. Now you have my attention.”

The infamous quote from Quentin Tarantino’s 2012 classic western film Django Unchained certainly paints a picture in the mind if you’re familiar with the film. It also encapsulates the post-race reaction of the NASCAR Xfinity Series competitors and fans after last Satruday’s (June 1) race at Portland International Raceway.

Shane van Gisbergen already had the accolades of three Supercars championships and a big debut win last year in the NASCAR Cup Series at the Chicago street course. But after the first 12 races of his Xfinity career, he was winless. Now, after a near-miss at Circuit of the Americas in March, he’s closed the deal and clinched a playoff berth.

Does a road course win, where van Gisbergen is obviously most comfortable, mean he could be a serious threat for a deep playoff run this fall? I am here to tell you not to count him out, there is evidence that suggests he can advance into the second round and beyond.

Anytime the series goes to a road course, we can now confidently project SVG as one of the favorites, if not the sole favorite. Even with his Cup win last year and a history of success across the pond, that wasn’t expected by many when the season began. The Cup cars are very similar to the Supercars he’s raced down under, and that Chicago race featured wet weather he has plenty of experience with. So, the expectation was that there would be a significant learning curve with the Xfinity cars.

Not to mention, he has some pretty legitimate competition. To win he has to beat AJ Allmendinger in the same equipment. Allmendinger has been among the road course elite in NASCAR, as he’s got seven road course wins in the Xfinity Series since 2021 to go along with two Cup wins in the same timeframe.

What were the chances van Gisbergen would be able to come to the states, run tracks he’s never run before, in a car he’s never driven before, and beat the likes of Allmendinger in a team car? The time for curiosity is over: van Gisbergen deserves the attention of everyone in NASCAR for what he is doing, and what he is going to do during the rest of the season.

Allmendinger isn’t the only stiff competition. Portland was a Xfinity standalone race, but the rest of the road courses on the schedule will be companion events with the Cup Series. Look back to COTA, where van Gisbergen had…

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