Jan Magnussen enjoyed a solid Sprint Cup series debut, finishing 12th on Sunday at Infineon Raceway.
The four-time 24 Hours of Le Mans class winner had started the race from 32nd place on the grid but a good strategy coupled with a strong final stint allowed him to rally back to finish just outside the top 10.
The Dane, who drove the #09 Phoenix Racing Chevy with technical support from Hendrick Motorsports, said his first NASCAR race experience was an eye-opening one, specially due the way racing got more aggressive in the middle of the pack in the closing laps.
"Well, it was fantastic; unlike anything I've ever experienced," said a joyful Magnussen. "The first two hours compared to the last hour was a big difference. People got more aggressive. The last 20 minutes, it just got nuts! Nothing prepares you for that other than doing it. So it was a fantastic experience all the way through."
The former McLaren and Stewart Grand Prix driver was particularly surprised at how clean drivers raced each other relative to the series where he has competed, including the American Le Mans.
He declared himself admired by how much respect he found between rivals on the track, but admitted sometimes contact was inevitable. In fact, Roush Fenway's Carl Edwards went to face him following the race, after he apparently got pushed into him while fighting for position in the closing laps.
"They drive so aggressively, but still with respect and that, I admire," he said. "They go two-wide and three-wide. That'll never happen in ALMS. Anyway, and not only in ALMS, but anywhere else I've run. If somebody is on the inside of me, I'm either lifting or falling off. But here, they allow you to race and to be two and three-wide; it was fantastic.
"I'm a little bit sorry that Carl Edwards came over to me after the race, but I got shoved into him and he spun around. He did not know that and was really angry. So I'm sorry for that. But this was a really great day for me. I learned a lot and had fun."
Magnussen will not be able to enter the second road course event of the Sprint Cup calendar this year, as it clashes with an American Le Mans race at Mid Ohio.
However, he is expected to remain involved with Hendrick Motorsports and its development programme, which showed improvements on Sunday as Jimmie Johnson claimed his maiden road course victory and all the team's cars finishing in the top 15.