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Which Road Course Ringer has the Best Chance this Weekend?

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The Indianapolis race this weekend is far more than just a NASCAR Cup Series race. It is almost like a motorsports All-Star Race with different drivers from the likes of Formula One, the World Endurance Championship, IMSA, and Australian Supercars racing this weekend. Which of these drivers has the best chance to walk away with the trophy this weekend?

Here is an analytical look at the major outside drivers that are participating in this weekend’s race at the Indianapolis Road Course.

#15 Jenson Button (Rick Ware Racing)

Jenson Button has more experience on this track than anyone in the field. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course in its original form was designed for Formula One as the track hosted the United States Grand Prix from 2000 until 2007. Button’s best finish at the track was eighth coming in the 2002 race. It’s worth noting that all of these races were before his most competitive time in F1, as he won his World Championship in 2009 with Brawn GP.

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He has run two races in the Cup Series this year with finishes of 18th at COTA and 21st at the Chicago Street Race. He did end up qualifying eighth for the Chicago Street Race as well. The equipment might hold him back at Indianapolis this weekend just as it seemingly has over the first couple of NASCAR races he has run. Overall, it will be an uphill battle for Button this weekend.

#33 Brodie Kostecki (Richard Childress Racing)

Brodie Kostecki was likely inspired by Shane Van Gisbergen’s Chicago Street Course win, but Kostecki does have some history in NASCAR. He ran 16 ARCA Menards Series East races between 2013 and 2014, and he got four top-10 finishes in the series. Following that, Kostecki moved to Australian Supercars, and he is now a race-winner in the series.

With his experience in stock cars combined with experience on street courses in the very similar Australian Supercars. If he takes to it just like SVG, watch out for Kostecki as he is racing in equipment that can win the race.

#42 Mike Rockenfeller (Legacy Motor Club)

Mike Rockenfeller is a last-minute entry as he fills in for the currently suspended Noah Gragson for both this race and Watkins Glen next week. People may forget that Rockenfeller does have experience in NASCAR as he ran two races for Spire Motorsports at Watkins Glen (30th) and the Charlotte Roval (29th). What NASCAR fans know him for is being one of the drivers of Garage 56 alongside Jimmie Johnson and Jenson Button.

The Garage 56 experience may help. Button was in Garage 56, and he qualified in the top-10 at the Chicago Street Race. The question really falls on equipment as Legacy Motor Club has struggled immensely this season with both cars. Rockenfeller will have to navigate that to a good finish on Sunday.

#67 Kamui Kobayashi (23XI Racing)

Kamui Kobayashi was announced back in June to run a third car for 23XI Racing. A former Formula One driver and three-time FIA World Endurance Championship Champion, Kobayashi is an accomplished driver in an unfamiliar car. The closest thing to NASCAR he has ever run is likely IMSA.

That lack of experience is probably his biggest hurdle, but his equipment is there to give him a good chance. 23XI won a road course race earlier this year at COTA with Tyler Reddick, and this 67 car finished a solid 11th leading two laps in the Daytona 500 with Travis Pastrana.

#91 Shane Van Gisbergen (Trackhouse)

SVG is likely to come to NASCAR next season, and he is not coming to Indianapolis to just run. As was proven at the Chicago Street Race, SVG can win in NASCAR, and that is what he is here to do. The thing that could limit SVG at Indianapolis is that there is no experience advantage for him here.

He ran so well at Chicago in large part because NASCAR drivers had never run on a street track before. Now, the NASCAR drivers have more experience at this track than SVG does. That does not mean he won’t be a contender, however. He will likely be running towards the front on Sunday.

This will be a fun race for those who are racing enthusiasts. Drivers of all different disciplines will have to negotiate turn one at Indianapolis with the NASCAR stars. What an event this will be.

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Joshua Lipowski

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