Shane van Gisbergen had a whirlwind and somewhat surreal life since July, and he’s about to take another step as the NASCAR season begins.

van Gisbergen went from being a NASCAR invader in July when he ran on the streets of Chicago with Trackhouse Racing, to being a NASCAR winner when he triumphed in that same event, to now being a full-time driver. It didn’t take long after van Gis bergen’s summer appearance for the wheels to be set in motion for him to leave Australia and Supercars to attempt a new challenge.

“It’s been huge since Chicago happened, and it’s just like the career path did 90 degrees and has gone in another direction,” van Gisbergen said this offseason during an appearance at the National Motorsports Press Association convention. “It’s pretty exciting. It’s good to have that uncertain feeling, not knowing what it’s going to be like. Am I going to be good at ovals? Am I going to fit in here?

“Being outside your comfort zone, having that anticipation and uncertainly, it’s a pretty cool feeling. I’m looking forward to seeing how I fit in.”

van Gisbergen has a full-time ride in the Xfinity series with Kaulig Racing and will also run seven Cup series races with the organization. Kaulig Racing and Trackhouse Racing are working together on van Gisbergen’s efforts.

A three-time Supercars champion, van Gisbergen was contracted for another season with Triple Eight, but the team didn’t want to stand in his way when it became clear van Gisbergen wanted to explore his options in NASCAR seriously.

Around the time van Gisbergen made his second appearance in the series at Indianapolis, things had progressed to a realistic level. What initially looked like van Gisbergen making limited starts in both the Xfinity Series and C up snowballed into sponsors and other partners signing on for more. The plan was finally rolled out in December as van Gisbergen will run NASCAR national series races plus a slate of late model and other events.

“It’s got a little stale for me last year, and a new challenge just refreshes and excites me,” van Gisbergen said. “I really want to do my best and try and succeed at something else.”

van Gisbergen never sets expectations but hopes his experience and age will be a benefit. The 34-year-old isn’t afraid to make mistakes but knows there is a line between showing his talent and being reckless.

“(Hopefully) I can just build up as I go and get comfortable,” van Gisbergen said. “Every week, I want to learn something and get better and for sure, I’m probably going to make some mistakes and crash some cars. But I want to get better every week.

“None of it looks easy; every week is different. Every week is going to be a challenge and a study to try and understand what it’ll be like.”

The first test will be at Daytona International Speedway. van Gisbergen will be busy running both the ARCA Menards Series and the Xfinity race. The racing style is entirely foreign to van Gisbergen, and he got a taste for it during the ARCA Menards test in Daytona last month.

“It’s different; I have no idea what I’m in for,” he said. “Kevin Harvick has been really good for advice and talking about getting safe in the car and how to look around for things. But he said, ‘Just be prepared, it’s going to be the biggest hits you’re ever going to take.’ So that’s not a nice thing to hear, but it’s reality, and it’s just how it’s going to be. It’s completely different racing; you just have to get through it, trying to place your car in the right spots and survive to the end.”

There was no speaking around the fact that van Gisbergen realized in reviewing film, particularly of previous ARCA Menards races at Daytona, that there could be a lot of carnage. It brought a chuckle when asked if he had watched those races. The field will be made up of various levels of experience, including first-time van Gisbergen.

“You got to be on your toes there, it looks like,” he said. “There are just random crashes happening all the time, guys making moves being unpredictable. It looks fun until it’s not.”