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Why SVG and Other International Stars May Struggle at Indianapolis

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Joshua Lipowski

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Shane Van Gisbergen and Trackhouse Racing announced on Wednesday evening, or Thursday morning if you are in Australia, that SVG will return to NASCAR at Indianapolis. He even adds himself to an already incredible entry list with sports car ace Kamui Kobayashi, Supercars rival Brodie Kostecki, and 2009 Formula One World Champion Jenson Button.

Expectations are high for SVG and these other drivers at Indianapolis, but is it fair to expect a repeat of the race at Chicago? Here is why SVG and his fellow international stars may struggle at Indianapolis

Familiarity with the Race Track

The Chicago Street Race was a completely different beast from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course for two main reasons. First, the Chicago Street Race was a brand new race track to everyone, and street racing in general was brand new to the NASCAR garage. Racing in the rain is also something that many NASCAR racers have very little experience with.

By contrast, Shane Van Gisbergen runs on street circuits multiple times per year. He understands how to race on street circuits. They are a complete different beast from natural terrain road courses.

Street circuits have no run-off, so it takes experience and incredible driver skill to push the car to its’ limit. NASCAR drivers are more than capable of doing so, but they had never done it before while SVG had. It’s the same scenario as racing on a drying race track in terms of the experience gap.

NASCAR drivers know the Indianapolis Road Course quite well by now as this is their third race there. Those two major things that pushed SVG forward are no longer there. SVG and his fellow international stars should still be very competitive as they are obviously world class road course racers, but they cannot take advantage of a new or unfamiliar environment.

Turn 1 Restarts

Turn one at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course is a monster to say the least. Nearly 40 cars in a land rush trying to fit into a hole that barely fits two cars side by side. It makes for a pretty incredible visual, but it also makes for a crapshoot of a finish.

If you are stuck in that hornet’s nest during the final laps of a race, it’s a coin flip that your car will come out in one piece on the other end. It also relegates your finishing position to a coin flip of sorts as well. Even running well throughout the day could be ruined by finishes like that.

The top-5 last year was as follows: Tyler Reddick, Austin Cindric, Harrison Burton, Todd Gilliland, and Bubba Wallace. The two other guys who led double digit laps were Ryan Blaney and Christopher Bell, and they finished 26th and 12th respectively.

Even Jenson Button had his own thoughts on the crazy restarts after running in the Cup Series race at Circuit of the Americas. He was quite surprised at the aggressiveness of the Cup Series drivers.

The NASCAR Cup Series race at Indianapolis is set to have one of the most incredible entry lists of any NASCAR race in recent years. Add to that IndyCar is going to be at the venue that weekend as well, and it could be a must-see event for race fans in the area.

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Picture of Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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