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Supercars ace Brown: van Gisbergen 'opened the door' to NASCAR debut

Supercars championship leader Will Brown says Shane van Gisbergen's success in NASCAR "opened that door" for him to make his debut in the Cup Series at Sonoma next month.

Race winner Will Brown, Triple Eight Race Engineering Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Last week Richard Childress Racing made official that Brown will drive its #33 Chevrolet in the 9 June Cup race, becoming the latest Supercars standout to enter the US stock car racing scene.

Last July, van Gisbergen became the first driver in more than 60 years to win a Cup race in his debut when he took victory in the inaugural Chicago Street Race driving for Trackhouse Racing.

The victory served as the instigator for the Kiwi to move to NASCAR competition this season, where he is running full-time in the Xfinity Series while also running part-time in Cup races.

Reigning Supercars champion Brodie Kostecki also made his Cup debut last year with RCR on the Indianapolis road course, while Cam Waters has entered two Truck Series races this season and is set to make his own Cup debut with RFK Racing at the same Sonoma event as Brown.

Brown joined Triple Eight from Erebus as van Gisbergen's replacement and leads the Supercars standings with three victories so far this season.

Speaking to Autosport, he acknowledged that van Gisbergen had also been the instigator for his impending first taste of NASCAR.

“You know, Shane really opened that door for a lot of people and to be honest, for me,” Brown said. “I said the other day it was only four years ago I was trying to get into Supercars. Now I’m with the best team in Australian motorsport.

Will Brown, Triple Eight Race Engineering Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Will Brown, Triple Eight Race Engineering Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Photo by: Edge Photographics

“You know, you can’t go higher. And now, I’ve been offered this opportunity to go to NASCAR. For me four years ago, a lot of this wasn’t even on the horizon. I didn’t think I’d ever get the opportunity to race NASCAR.

“So, I’m just like living the dream. I’m happy about it. It’s great. But yeah, I think Shane’s really allowed this to happen in a way with what he’s done.”

Brown’s own interest in NASCAR was fostered by watching races on TV but he dived far deeper into it following van Gisbergen’s shock win in Chicago and his subsequent ability to move to full-time NASCAR competition.

While van Gisbergen has already committed to a NASCAR career, Brown’s ambitions are much more in flux. 

“It’s awesome to come over here and test yourself against the best in America and the best in the world as well,” Brown said. “So, you know we’re sort of over on our side of the world and we’re very competitive.

“But it’s not until you head overseas do you know what sort of level you’re at. So, for me, it’s about doing that. I love what I’m doing in Australia with Red Bull and Red Bull Racing. If I could do a few races a year in America each year, I’d love to do it.

“So, hopefully, it opens up a few a few doors to be able to do that next.”

RCR is a natural fit for Brown, who competed with the organisation’s Cup drivers, Austin Dillon and Kyle Busch, in a World Racing League event at Circuit of the Americas last December. 

Will Brown, Triple Eight Race Engineering Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Will Brown, Triple Eight Race Engineering Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Photo by: Edge Photographics

RCR and Supercars teams Erebus Motorsport and Image Racing maintain a relationship that has seen both parties visit each other in their native countries, including team owner Richard Childress’ visit to last season’s Supercars finale at Adelaide.

“I’ve stayed in touch with Will since he came over in December to race with us, and he has proven to be a disciplined and passionate racer,” said Childress.

“His start with RCR is a continuation of a long-standing investment that RCR has made in finding and honing talent and looking beyond U.S. motorsports.”

Brown said he hopes the Supercars-to-NASCAR pipeline will soon start running in the opposite direction.

“It would be awesome for us if we could get one or two of the NASCAR guys out here at the end of the year to race our last round in Supercars,” he said.

“You know, bring them over here and see how they compete over in Australia and get a bit of an alliance going there that we have sort of that mutual respect. You know, the cars are similar. The racing we do is similar. Obviously, the ovals are a bit different.

“But, you know, hopefully like I say, we can get a bit of an alliance going there.”

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