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Nick DeGroot

Van Gisbergen "having a ball" in first NASCAR laps on an oval

The three-time Supercars champ is making his NASCAR oval debut in Friday's Truck Series playoff-opener at IRP, driving the No. 41 Niece Motorsports Chevrolet Silverado. 

He completed 16 laps in practice, posting a fast lap of 24.125s, ranking 12th out of the 19 trucks in Group A practice. His time on track was abbreviated by battery issues, as well as multiple red flags that interrupted the session. He ended up 32nd overall on the speed charts.

Van Gisbergen spoke with Fox Sports 1 (FS1) after his 15 minutes of practice was complete, but it proved difficult to hear as the second group of trucks ripped around the 0.686-miles short track.

"I have no idea what you just said," he said with a smile." They're so noisy -- these things with no mufflers. I had a good time. Just getting used to it. Obviously didn't get the most out of the new tire but at the end, I felt that I was half-competitive. It's so different, like the way it turns into the corner and loads up. I got a lot to learn."

Qualifying improvement

In qualifying, Van Gisbergen ran a 23.834s on Lap 1, but bettered it by over three tenths to a 23.527s on Lap 2. His time was 0.643s off the pole time set by Christian Eckes.

He ended up 28th of the 37 trucks that put down a time, and will start on the outside of Row 14.

"It's tough," he told FS1 after his qualifying run. "It's just all instinctive and reacting to it. First lap, I didn't get the most out of it and expected a bit much. I had a big slide out of Turn 2 onto the backstraight. Just getting used to it. Then the second lap, I didn't know what to expect. Had an awesome time getting better. Looks like I'm going to be right in the middle of it all at the start, so it's going to be interesting."

He later added: "I'm having a ball. Just learning so much every lap and hopefully we'll get some long runs in the race so I can get in a rhythm and just learn a lot tonight."

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