[Verstappen was “literally screaming” watching Van Gisbergen NASCAR win
Verstappen, who currently leads the points as he hunts a third consecutive F1 world championship, was paying close attention to the race from afar.
It was the first-ever street race for the NASCAR Cup Series, and one that transitioned from wet to dry conditions throughout the frantic 75-lap event. Van Gisbergen, who started in the second row, had to drive from 18th to the lead in the final third of the race to ultimately claim victory. He made the pass for the win with just under five laps to go, and then held on through an overtime restart.
Along with being the only New Zealander to win a NASCAR race, he also became the first driver since Johnny Rutherford over 60 years ago to win a Cup race on debut. Even more impressively, he did so with the part-time Project91 entry for Trackhouse Racing. 2007 F1 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen has driven that car twice before, but finished no higher than 29th.
Race winner Shane van Gisbergen, Trackhouse Racing, Chevrolet Camaro
Photo by: Rusty Jarrett / NKP / Motorsport Images
“I stayed awake to watch it,” said Verstappen during a Thursday media availability at Silverstone. “And I’ve never felt so nervous in my life watching someone else race and trying to win it. So yeah, I was literally screaming in front of my monitor for him to win that.
“I mean that’s really really impressive to jump in the car and you don’t know … they are very hard cars to drive. And he just goes in there and he absolutely dominates the race. So yeah, I know he’s a great driver. I know what he’s capable of. And I know how good he is in different kinds of disciplines. And he is great of course in V8s, that is what he knows, he’s great in the rally car as well, and clearly he is great in a NASCAR as well. And I mean that Shane. He is a crazy right-foot braker still.”
Verstappen says he contacted Van Gisbergen after the win to congratulate him.
SVG, a three-time champion of Australian Supercars, has now opened the door to potentially moving to NASCAR full-time in the near future. Although the ovals will be a difficult transition, the series is constantly adding more road courses. There are currently six on the schedule, including one in the playoffs.
Asked if he is interested in ever giving NASCAR a go, Verstappen admitted that he’s more likely to remain a spectator for the time being.
“No! It’s not my style, I think. I mean, I like watching it. I think it’s really, really cool. And I was really happy for Shane, but I’m happy to maybe go there and just have a beer myself and enjoy the show.”