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NASCAR Cup Indianapolis

SVG on Indy Road Course: "It's going to be a fight"

There is no shortage of NASCAR Cup drivers who predict Shane van Gisbergen will be a favorite in this weekend’s race on the Indy Road Course, but the three-time Supercars champion is tempering expectations.

Shane van Gisbergen, Trackhouse Racing, Chevrolet Camaro

Van Gisbergen’s Cup debut was a memorable one as he won the series’ inaugural street course race last month in Chicago driving Trackhouse Racing’s No. 91 Chevrolet Project91 entry.

With intentions to run a fulltime NASCAR schedule in 2024, van Gisbergen is running two more races this weekend – Friday night’s Truck race on the oval at Indianapolis Raceway Park and Sunday’s Cup race on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course.

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Van Gisbergen’s performance at Chicago has been lauded by Cup drivers and many expect to see a similar effort on Sunday, but the Kiwi isn’t so sure.

“It’s a lot of unknowns,” said van Gisbergen. “You can do as much sim time as you want but there’s only 20 minutes of practice this time. Before Chicago, I had the little (test) at the Roval and then 50 minutes of practice.

“It’s going to be difficult, not many laps. Only one set of tires (in practice). Hopefully, I’m building up, getting better and getting a decent qualifying spot, stay out of trouble when the race starts.

“The race is long enough, hopefully, I’ll be picking it up and running pretty good by the end of the race. How I’m going to fit in pace-wise – I have no idea.”

Shane van Gisbergen, Trackhouse Racing

Shane van Gisbergen, Trackhouse Racing

Photo by: Owlpine Group

Unlike Chicago, which was the Cup series’ first-ever race on a street course, NASCAR drivers have plenty of experience with road course racing, and specifically on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn Indy circuit.

Also, due to the wet weather conditions at Chicago, NASCAR did not use double-file restarts. They will be used this weekend.

There will be one change for all drivers, however.

The restart zone location for this weekend’s Cup and Xfinity races has been relocated to between Turns 13 & 14, which NASCAR hopes will help what has been traditionally a big bottleneck of cars entering Turn 1 on the course.

Race vehicles do not have to stay in line until they pass the start-finish line. Once vehicles exit the restart zone, they may change lanes.

“I don’t have any expectations,” van Gisbergen said. “Our prep work has gone very well. Obviously, I’m in a good car again – it’s a car capable of winning. So, if we get everything right, anything can happen. But it’s going to be tough.

“It’s a track this time that everyone knows, and I’ll have to go through the double-file restarts this time. The spot has changed where the restarts are this week, but it still looks crazy. You’re still going to arrive into Turn 1 in a massive pack of cars.

“I don’t really know how to be in those situations, but I guess I’ll have to learn on the fly.”

Asked if he set the bar too high with a win in his first series start, van Gisbergen demurred.

“I just think it’s cool they all know my name now. They didn’t last time I was here,” he said. “My car still has the yellow stripes on the back that stand out and I still got a lot to learn.

“I expect it’s going to be a lot more action. I don’t expect to be upfront like we were at Chicago. It’s going to be a fight, I think.”

Race winner Shane van Gisbergen, Trackhouse Racing, Chevrolet Camaro

Race winner Shane van Gisbergen, Trackhouse Racing, Chevrolet Camaro

Photo by: Rusty Jarrett / NKP / Motorsport Images

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