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Grading the Road Course Ringers: Report Card for Indianapolis

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One of the biggest storylines heading into the Indianapolis Road Course race was the road course ringers. Drivers from different disciplines of motorsports came to race at Indianapolis, but how did they fare when they actually raced on Sunday?

Shane van Gisbergen (Finished: 10th)

Grade: A-

Breakdown: After winning the Chicago Street Race, many wondered whether or not SVG’s success would translate to Indianapolis. While not a race-win, SVG showed on Sunday that Chicago truly was more than a flash-in-the-pan performance. He qualified in the top-10, ran in the top-10, and finished in the top-10. A solid performance for SVG.

Brodie Kostecki (Finished: 22nd)

Grade: B-

Breakdown: It was an up-and-down weekend overall for Brodie Kostecki after damage in qualifying necessitated the move to a backup car. He was forced to start at the rear of the field after qualifying eleventh, but he worked his way slowly forward and stayed on the lead lap. One can only wonder what he could have done if he kept his qualifying position, but, overall, he showed that he drives in NASCAR.

Mike Rockenfeller (Finished: 24th)

Grade: C+

Breakdown: Mike Rockenfeller was put in the most difficult position of any ringer as he was asked to fill in for the now-suspended-and-released Noah Gragson. He also qualified in 37th in equipment that has struggled all season, but, in the race, Rockenfeller did alright. He drove the 42 car up to 24th in a race with only one caution, and he just narrowly missed out on the lead lap in the closing laps. Given the tough situation, Rockenfeller did a good job.

Jenson Button (Finished: 28th)

Grade: C-

Breakdown: Of the three races Button has run this season, Indianapolis was easily his worst. He qualified worse than the other two races, and his finish was worse than the other two races. After qualifying in eighth at the Chicago Street Race before finishing 21st, this was not the follow-up Button wanted.

Kamui Kobayashi (Finished: 33rd)

Grade: C-

Breakdown: Kamui Kobayashi finished the furthest back of any road course ringer this weekend, but that was not entirely his fault. He was absolutely punted by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in the later stages of the race, and, again, the lack of cautions meant a poor qualifying run was a detriment. Then again, Kobayashi said that he had fun, and he would like to come back to NASCAR if he could soon.

Even if the results were not great, getting the chance to see these world-class drivers race in NASCAR is a big deal. It was an awesome weekend, and hopefully, some of these drivers will come back soon.

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Joshua Lipowski

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