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Van Gisbergen eyeing NASCAR 2024 switch

Shane van Gisbergen has confirmed that his intention is to make a permanent switch from Supercars to NASCAR next season.

Shane van Gisbergen, Triple Eight Race Engineering Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Shane van Gisbergen, Triple Eight Race Engineering Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Edge Photographics

The likelihood of the three-time Supercars champion departing Australia at the end of this season has been growing since his sensational win on his debut in the NASCAR Cup Series earlier this month in Chicago.

He is under contract with Triple Eight in Supercars next year, but the team has been clear that it will release him if needed.

That is now all but a certainty, van Gisbergen confirming to media in Sydney this evening that he is on the hunt for a NASCAR programme next year.

When asked it if it will be a full-time deal he said wasn't sure, although that appeared to be reference to a full Cup programme.

He then clarified that there is no plan to combine Supercars and NASCAR next year.

According to van Gisbergen, his current focus is on helping Triple Eight secure a suitable replacement.

"There's a lot happening in the background," he said.

"I'm not leaving because of this team. I love this team and when I leave I want to make sure there is someone here to replace me that's going to do a good job in the car.

"You don't want to leave the team with nothing, scrambling to find someone. I want to leave with the team in a good spot. Hopefully the team has someone soon."

Shane van Gisbergen, Trackhouse Racing, Enhance Health Chevrolet Camaro

Shane van Gisbergen, Trackhouse Racing, Enhance Health Chevrolet Camaro

Photo by: Nigel Kinrade / NKP / Motorsport Images

Opening up on how his 2024 may look, van Gisbergen hinted at the lower rungs on the NASCAR ladder as he acclimatises to oval racing.

"When I study it, Marcos [Ambrose] did three years before he went to Cup full-time. [Juan Pablo] Montoya was pretty much a full season as well. Nobody has every gone into Cup.

"And I have no illusion that those ovals are going to be easy. It's going to take a lot of time to learn. I don't have a plan, hopefully I'll work it out when I'm over there."

That last line is a reference to an impending second outing in the Cup Series with Trackhouse Racing at Indianapolis next month.

Triple Eight team manager Mark Dutton said the team won't try and twist van Gisbergen's arm to stay.

"Shane is a teammate and obviously we want him to stay, but we wouldn't ever think of running a guilt trip or anything to try and stop him from this next step," he said.

"This is not leaving down pitlane. This is not going to the opposition. This is an amazing opportunity and whichever way it goes, we'll be totally supporting."

Whincup return an "awesome fallback"

Jamie Whincup, Triple Eight Race Engineering

Jamie Whincup, Triple Eight Race Engineering

Photo by: Edge Photographics

Van Gisbergen's planned departure from Supercars has put Triple Eight firmly in the driver transfer market.

Names such as enduro driver Richie Stanaway have been floated, while other top drivers such as Chaz Mostert (under contract at Walkinshaw Andretti United) and Cam Waters (expected to stay at Tickford) are unavailable.

A left-field option that has emerged is that T8 managing director Jamie Whincup could make a sensational full-time driving return.

Whincup stepped back from full-time driving as the most successful Supercars driver ever at the end of the 2021 season. He has continued as an enduro driver for the team in Supercars and as part of its Aussie and Asian GT programmes.

However, his full-time focus has been on the day-to-day running of the Triple Eight business. 

A one-year cameo could be beneficial in terms of the driver market with a number of big-name drivers off contract at the end of 2024. 

Assessing the potential for Whincup's return, T8 team manager Mark Dutton said: "It's an awesome fallback. We're in a fantastic position to have that as a backup plan. 

Shane van Gisbergen, Triple Eight Race Engineering, Jamie Whincup, Triple Eight Race Engineering

Shane van Gisbergen, Triple Eight Race Engineering, Jamie Whincup, Triple Eight Race Engineering

Photo by: Edge Photographics

"Is that our initial plan? No, it's not."

Dutton added that one consideration would be the risk to Whincup's legacy if he were to return and not perform. 

"It's one of those things; we've got to be careful," he said. 

"I've reminded Jamie when we've chatted about these things, he finished as the GOAT. If you come back and aren't strong, yeah, that puts a bit of a downer on your career. 

"It's definitely not our first option, but it's a bloody good one. And you know he'll work super hard if it happens."

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