Van Gisbergen began the race in eighth place driving the No. 91 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet. However, due to a minor collision with Christopher Bell at the beginning, he swiftly advanced to seventh position.
Throughout the day, he primarily remained in the vicinity of the top ten, engaging in fierce competition with Bell, as well as Cup champions Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Larson.
Following an initial warning, the race proceeded without interruptions, allowing the competitors to separate from each other. SVG secured a tenth-place finish, crossing the finish line 25 seconds after the victorious Michael McDowell.
“After the race, SVG expressed, ‘It’s simply a competition between skilled drivers.’ He mentioned Larson and Bell being in the mix. Regrettably, they managed to surpass me during the final pit stop. It’s satisfying to secure another Top-10 position for the Enhance Chevy and Project 91. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves throughout the weekend. Hopefully, we can return and repeat the experience.”
Van Gisbergen was aware that Indy would pose a greater challenge compared to Chicago, where he achieved a successful debut due to his familiarity with the track. The lap times remained remarkably tight across all 39 cars in the field.
“It’s challenging here because everyone is fully engaged,” expressed Van Gisbergen, who successfully led a lap during one of the pit stop cycles under green-flag conditions. “Every individual is familiar with the track, and there is ample space for mistakes. The competition is intense. I am immensely grateful to the Project 91 team for providing me with the exceptional Enhance Chevy. It was an absolute delight to return to racing. Hopefully, I will have more opportunities in the future. I engaged in an exhilarating battle with Kyle [Larson] and Christopher [Bell]. Ultimately, they outperformed me, but it was a fantastic experience to compete against them.”
The individual who has won the Supercars championship three times stated that the racing was “intense, yet equitable.”
During the race, he discussed his numerous encounters, stating: “I strategically impeded the progress of car number 48 [Alex Bowman], but in the subsequent corner, he swiftly retaliated. I suppose I had it coming. The competition was exhilarating, and I genuinely relished it. When engaging in maneuvers against opponents, they grant you space with the expectation of reciprocation. Truly remarkable.”
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 has been an incredible week,” he stated. “I am extremely grateful to Justin Marks and the Trackhouse team for providing me with this chance. I gained valuable experience during the Truck race on Friday night, and now being able to compete here again is truly special. While achieving a top-10 finish is fantastic, there is pressure due to the previous race. Nevertheless, I need to acknowledge that a top-10 result is still quite commendable.”
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 made an impressive performance in his third Cup start, driving the No. 42 Legacy Motor Club Chevrolet. Despite facing a speeding penalty on pit road, he managed to gain 13 positions and finished in 24th place.
Button experienced numerous instances of passing other drivers on the track, but unfortunately, the outcome was not as expected and left him feeling disappointed.
Jenson Button, the 2009 Formula 1 World Champion, participated in his last scheduled race of the year driving the No. 15 Rick Ware Racing Ford. Despite showing good speed, he encountered various obstacles during the race. Initially, he received a penalty for speeding on pit road, followed by a couple of incidents involving Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Additionally, he later received another penalty for taking shortcuts on the course.
Button expressed his desire to simply achieve a completion, stating that his highest accomplishment this year was an 18th place finish 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.
“I ended up locking up and going straight across the grass in Turn 1 while trying to catch up to Kevin [Harvick]. As a result, I had to make a stop-and-go, which was quite messy. However, our pace was impressive, and I believe we had the third or fourth fastest lap of the race. Overall, it went really well, although the outcome was disappointing. I actually enjoyed it, as there were plenty of overtakes and intense wheel-to-wheel action, as you probably noticed from the condition of my car.”
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.
“I was anticipating a caution, but it never occurred,” Kobayashi stated after the race. “Nonetheless, I thoroughly enjoyed it and am grateful. Completing 77 laps without a caution is quite extensive, and I believe I gained valuable insights from it. We also demonstrated good speed. Although I was involved in a collision, I understand that this is typical in NASCAR. However, the competition on the track was fantastic. This championship is truly remarkable, and I had an exceptional experience here. I extend my gratitude to Toyota and Toyota Gazoo Racing North America for their unwavering support.”
“I cannot reword.”