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July 19, 2023

Shane van Gisbergen to return to Trackhouse for Indy road course race

Shane van Gisbergen will return to the Trackhouse Racing No. 91 Chevrolet at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, the team announced.

Van Gisbergen won the inaugural Chicago Street Race in his NASCAR Cup Series debut on July 3 in Trackhouse’s Project91 entry, which sought to put motorsports’ best global talent outside the stock-car ranks in competitive equipment at NASCAR’s top level.

MORE: Cup schedule | Chicago highlights Trackhouse’s innovation

The three-time Australian V8 Supercars champion will return to the seat for his second NASCAR endeavor and a rare chance to go 2-for-2 in Cup Series starts. A native of New Zealand, van Gisbergen spoke highly of his NASCAR experience after Chicago — winning aside.

“I miss racing in the States,” van Gisbergen said. “I’ve done (the Rolex 24 at) Daytona four or five times now and just the way the American people are and how they go racing, it’s so much more enjoyable. And even doing the media stuff, which I hate, everyone here is really nice. They ask good questions and they’re respectful and it goes both ways. Everyone here has made me feel comfortable, and it’s so enjoyable the way the races are run.”

Trackhouse owner Justin Marks lauded his driver’s remarkable ability both before and after SVG became just the seventh driver to win his Cup debut and first since 1963. The third-year team owner saw the potential from van Gisbergen among other drivers from Oceanic countries like Australia and New Zealand and knew SVG could succeed in the right opportunity.

“The (Supercars) are very similar and the talent there is unbelievable,” Marks said after Chicago. “Obviously, we had Marcos Ambrose in the (Cup) Series for a number of years. Scott McLaughlin came over and won in the IndyCar series, and you look at Scott Dixon, guys from that part of the world. There’s so much talent over there, and I sort of thought of it as kind of an untapped resource. …

“Shane has had a lot of experience in cars like this. I figured if a guy like him could come over and we could put the program together like we have for Project91, that he could get to speed really, really quickly and be able to contend.”

This is set to be the third entry of 2023 for Trackhouse’s Project91 effort, which includes Kimi Räikkönen’s start at the Circuit of The Americas earlier this spring. Marks noted in Chicago he believes a three-race schedule for his No. 91 Chevrolet is about the maximum he can ask of his team.

“Beyond probably three races, it starts to be a third team,” Marks said. “It starts to really kind of drain — not drain, but take resources from the 1 and the 99 car, which is what we’re really focused on at Trackhouse, getting both of those cars in the championship, being able to make a championship run.

“The last thing I want to do is have Project91 be a drain on that or take anything away from that. So I think three is really sort of the limit for us. If we ever expand to a third full-time team, it’s good that we’re going through this exercise right now with the 91 because we’re doing sort of three teams’ worth of work in the shop as we lead into the Project91 races. But I think beyond that, it starts to become a third team deal, which is a whole ‘nother conversation for our company.”

SVG joins a group of international drivers set to hit the Indy road course. Australian and fellow Supercars star Brodie Kostecki will make his NASCAR Cup Series debut in the No. 33 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, as will former Japanese Formula One driver Kamui Kobayashi, who will pilot the No. 67 Toyota for 23XI Racing. Englishman and 2009 F1 World Champion Jenson Button will return to the No. 15 Ford for Rick Ware Racing for his third Cup race of the season after stints at Chicago and COTA.

The Verizon 200 at the Brickyard is set for Sunday, Aug. 13 at 2:30 p.m. ET with live coverage on NBC, IMS Radio, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio and the NBC Sports App.