van Gisbergen tabbed for Trackhouse PROJECT 91 at Chicago Cup Series Race

Shane van Gisbergen, a three-time Australian Supercars champion will drive the NO. 91 Chevrolet Camaro in NASCAR's first street race in Chicago - Trackhouse Racing photo
Shane van Gisbergen, a three-time Australian Supercars champion will drive the No. 91 Chevrolet Camaro in NASCAR’s first street race in Chicago – Trackhouse Racing photo

Trackhouse Racing’s PROJECT 91 is reaching to the Antipodes for its next star turn, enlisting three-time Australian Supercars champion Shane van Gisbergen to wheel its No. 91 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 during NASCAR’s first-ever Chicago street race July 2.

The Chicago Cup Series weekend marks the third time Trackhouse has enlisted an international star to pilot one of its cars; 2007 Formula One world champion Kimi Raikkonen took the nod for the first two occasions that Trackhouse owner Justin Marks tabbed an international star for NASCAR racing duties. He created PROJECT 91 last year to expand his organization’s international reach by inviting racing stars from around the globe to try their hands at Cup Series competition.

This race marks van Gisbergen’s first NASCAR competition. “I can honestly say I have dreamed about an opportunity in NASCAR., but really never thought it would become a reality,” van Gisbergen said. The New Zealand native “can’t wait to get to the States to meet everyone and prepare for Chicago. It’s NASCAR’s first time on the streets of Chicago so in some ways everyone will be a rookie like me. I don’t underestimate that it’s going to be a huge challenge,” he said.

Regular Trackhouse Racing racers Daniel Suarez (No. 99) and Ross Chastain in the No. 1 Camaros will get to meet their one-time teammate in June, when van Gisbergen travels to the team’s headquarters for acclimatization with the team and fitment. He’ll accompany Trackhouse Racing to the June 25 NASCAR Cup Series race at Nashville Superspeedway, then remain in the States until his time behind the wheel is done. “There is so much I have to learn about these cars and how the races are run,” he remarked.

Financial backing for this one-race exercise comes from Enhance Health; the No. 91 Camaro features a Trackhouse crew led by 23-time winning crew chief Darian Grubb, who won a Cup Series championship with three-time NASCAR Cup Series titleholder Tony Stewart in 2011. Enhance Health uses digital technologies and a concierge experience that can streamline the health insurance enrollment process. Associate sponsorship comes from Quad Lock, a Melbourne, Australia-based firm whose phone mounting products are available in more than 100 countries around the world. Van Gisbergen is a Quad Lock ambassador.

Shane van Gisbergen – Trackhouse Racing photo

While Justin Marks noted the positive reaction by American fans to Raikkonen’s two appearances was due to his international fame, “American racing fans might not be a familiar with Shane as they are with Kimi, but if you talk with anyone in Australia, New Zealand and that part of the world, they will tell you he is one of the most talented drivers on the planet. He’s used to street racing in heavy cars, and I think everyone will be very impressed with his performance.”

Van Gisbergen, 33, drives a Chevrolet Camaro in the Supercars Championship for Triple Eight Race Engineering. He’s won titles in 2016, 2021 and last season, owning 78 victories and 47 pole positions. He’s the fourth-most successful driver in series history and has been victorious twice in the most well-known Supercars race, the Bathurst 1000, in 2020 and 2022. He’s not a stranger to American motorsports, having finished second in the 2015 Rolex 24 at Daytona in GTD class.

“The learning curve will be quite steep,” van Gisbergen realizes, “but I am ready for everything they will throw at me. I know a lot of Kiwi’s and Aussies will be watching and I’m honored to get this opportunity.”

About Anne Proffit 1268 Articles
Anne Proffit traces her love of racing - in particular drag racing - to her childhood days in Philadelphia, where Atco Dragway, Englishtown and Maple Grove Raceway were destinations just made for her. As a diversion, she was the first editor of IMSA’s Arrow newsletter, and now writes about and photographs sports cars, Indy cars, Formula 1, MotoGP, NASCAR, Formula Drift, Red Bull Global Rallycross - in addition to her first love of NHRA drag racing. A specialty is a particular admiration for the people that build and tune drag racing engines.

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