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NASCAR Cup Indianapolis

Van Gisbergen leads ringers with top-ten finish at Indianapolis

It wasn't a win, but Shane van Gisbergen again impressed with a solid top-ten finish in Sunday's NASCAR Cup Series race at the Indianapolis Road Course.

Van Gisbergen started eighth in the No. 91 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet, but quickly moved up to seventh after some contact at the start with Christopher Bell.

He spent most of the day hovering around the backend of the top-ten, battling it out with Bell, as well Cup champions Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Larson

After an early caution, the race went completely green from that point onward, spreading out the field. SVG finished tenth, 25 seconds behind race winner Michael McDowell.

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“It’s just a battle of good drivers," said SVG after the race. "It was with Larson and Bell there. Unfortunately, they came out in front of me on that last pit stop. Great to get another Top-10 for the Enhance Chevy, and Project 91. We had fun all weekend. Hopefully can come back and do it all again.”

Van Gisbergen knew that Indy would be more difficult than Chicago where he won a debut, being a familiar track for the Cup regulars. The lap times were incredibly close throughout the 39-car field.

“It’s hard here because everyone’s on it," said Van Gisbergen, who managed to a lead a lap during one of the green-flag pit stop cycles. "Everyone knows the track and there’s a lot more room for error. Everyone’s racing aggressively. I can’t thank the Project 91 guys here enough for the Enhance Chevy. So much fun to be back. Hopefully can do more. Had an awesome battle with Kyle [Larson] and Christopher [Bell] there. They got the better of me at the end, but battling with those guys was great.”

The three-time Supercars champion said the racing was "aggressive, but it's fair."

Speaking on his many battles throughout the race, he said: "I put a block on the 48 [Alex Bowman], and the next corner he just moved me. I guess I deserved that. The racing was fun. I really enjoyed it. All the battling when you go through a move on someone, they give you room. They expect it back. Really cool.”

He also made his oval debut this week, finishing 19th for Niece Motorsports at IRP. Although his plans for 2024 have yet to be finalized, it's likely that he will be racing in NASCAR in some capacity.

“It’s been an amazing week," he concluded. "I can’t thank Justin Marks and the Trackhouse team enough for giving me this opportunity. I learned a lot in the Truck on Friday night, and to get to come here and race again. Although a top-10 is awesome, expectations are high because of the last race. I just have to realize a top-10 is still pretty good.”

Shane Van Gisbergen, Trackhouse Racing, Enhance Health Chevrolet Camaro

Shane Van Gisbergen, Trackhouse Racing, Enhance Health Chevrolet Camaro

Photo by: Matthew T. Thacker / NKP / Motorsport Images

Things weren't nearly as calm for some of the other international stars in the field. This race matched a record for most countries represented in a single Cup race (seven).

Fellow Supercars driver and current series points leader Brodie Kostecki qualified 11th, but had to start from the back of the field after a qualifying crash. Making his debut, Kostecki steadily marched through the field and finished 22nd.

Mike Rockenfeller gained 13 positions from the start, finishing 24th in his third career Cup start and his first while driving the No. 42 Legacy Motor Club Chevrolet. It was a solid showing, made more impressive by the fact that he had to fight back from a speeding penalty on pit road.

"Lots of overtaking" but a "disappointing result" for Button 

2009 Formula 1 World Champion Jenson Button was making his final planned start of the year in the No. 15 Rick Ware Racing Ford. He had decent pace, but suffered several setbacks throughout the race. First a pit road speeding penalty, then a few run-ins with Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and another penalty later for course-cutting.

"It’d be nice just to get a finish," said Button, whose best result of the year was an 18th in Austin (COTA).

"The pace is there. It’s just that I made mistakes today. The car was working well. Yesterday was frustrating just because we didn’t have any pace. Today, the guys did a really good job of finding a setup that worked for me. I could brake later, so I could make a lot of moves. I can’t imagine how many cars I actually overtook during the race. But at the end of the first pitstop, I was speeding into pitlane. So, I had to do a drive-through. Kills your race – about 30 seconds in pit-lane. So, it sets you back a lot, and then when I made a move on someone – I think [Ricky] Stenhouse Jr. – he spun me around and it cost me a bit more time. It wasn’t great.

"Then pushing to the end to chase down Kevin [Harvick], I locked up and went straight across the grass in Turn 1. So, had to do a stop-and-go. It was messy. But, the pace was there. It was really good. I think we had the third or fourth quickest lap of the race? So, went really well. Just a disappointing result. I enjoyed it. Lots of overtaking, wheel-to-wheel banging as you could probably see by the car.”

Kamui Kobayashi, 23XI Racing, Toyota Genuine Parts Toyota Camry

Kamui Kobayashi, 23XI Racing, Toyota Genuine Parts Toyota Camry

Photo by: Nigel Kinrade / NKP / Motorsport Images

Kamui Kobayashi, driving the No. 67 23XI Racing Toyota, had a couple spins during the race including a moment late in the event where he also got into it with Stenhouse. The 2023 Daytona 500 winner sent Kobayashi spinning in Turn 1, costing him several spots. Kobayashi would ultimately finish 33rd, but had the pace to be inside the top-25.

“First of all, I was waiting for a caution," said Kobayashi post-race. "It never happened. I definitely enjoyed it. Thank you. 77 laps, no caution is pretty long – I think I learned a lot. We had some good speed, as well. I got hit by someone, but this is NASCAR. But the racing in the field was great. It’s a really cool championship – I had a great experience here. Thank you to all of the support from Toyota, Toyota Gazoo Racing North America.

"This is a dream come true.”

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