Van Gisbergen shocked the racing world earlier this month when he became the first driver in modern NASCAR history to win on his debut.
The sensational victory came on the streets of Chicago with the Kiwi taking control of Project 91’s entry to Trackhouse Racing.
It has now been confirmed that the Supercars regular will return to the Cup fold for the Indianapolis road race next month.
It will be a different challenge for van Gisbergen given that the Cup regulars have experience on the track, while Chicago was new to everyone.
Street circuits are also very familiar to van Gisbergen with four of them on the current Supercar calendar.
Still, Richard Childress Racing driver Busch remains confident that van Gisbergen will be tough to beat in Indy, although his advantage over the field won’t be as great.
“I would say he’s the favorite for sure,” he said.
“I would say the gap will be narrower between Chicago and the rest of the field than he had. He beat us all by six to eight tenths of a second per lap.
“I would say coming into Indy we should all be within two or three tenths, but he’s still going to be the best.”
Shane van Gisbergen, Trackhouse Racing, Improving Health Chevrolet Camaro
Photo by: Nigel Kinrade / NKP / Motorsport Images
Van Gisbergen’s return to NASCAR comes amid feverish speculation that he will move full-time to American stock cars next season.
He’s technically contracted to Triple Eight for the 2024 Supercars season, but he’s been known to be unhappy with the new Gen3 cars.
T8 boss Jamie Whincup indicated after Chicago’s victory that he would not stand in the way of van Gisbergen if a full-time NASCAR ride becomes available next year.
Van Gisbergen won’t be the only Supercars driver in the Indy field with Brodie Kostecki set to make his Cup Series debut in a third RCR outing.
Busch expects Kostecki to be an asset to the team for the race, based on a joint test they undertook earlier this year in an RCR-owned Holden Commodore Supercar in the United States.
Supercars have become a suitable test mule for NASCAR teams given the similarities to current-generation coupe cars.
“We tested together our V8 Supercar that we have at RCR earlier this year,” Busch explained. “He was there when we first went out and I think he had me covered by about two seconds a lap, and then as the day went on, at the end of the day, we actually put in times that were really comparable and just above his.
“It just took me a while to get used to these cars and what they are and how you can really attack the corners. Just various driving techniques these cars take.
“But I think those guys are all very good at what they do, and they really understand the feel of a heavy stock car and the basis of those road courses. So I guess (Kostecki) will be strong as well.”
“Hopefully I can lean on him and learn a lot from him and have time in the simulation and stuff like that with him that will allow us to be better when we get there.”