Shane van Gisbergen won his first series race when he wrecked the opening NASCAR Chicago Street Race party.
Van Gisbergen won the rain-delayed opening street race in the Cup series, highlighting the sport’s international motorsports reach as NASCAR marked its 75th anniversary.
The race entered a two-lap overtime period after a late warning for a two-car collision, but van Gisbergen, who had taken the lead on the last restart, easily held off Justin Haley by 1.259 seconds to secure the victory.
As the sun fell in downtown Chicago, the Kiwi performed the customary burnout on the frontstretch of his Trackhouse Racing No. 91 Chevrolet to the cheers of the audience.
When pressed if he thought winning his first series race was even possible, van Gisbergen responded, “No, of course not but you always dream of it. What an experience in the crowd out here.
“This was so cool. This is what you dream of. Hopefully, I can come and do more.”
Van Gisbergen claimed he was concerned about his capacity to get back to the front when he dropped to 18th following his last pit stop.
“The racing was really good, everyone was respectful. It was tough but a lot of fun,” he said. “The fans in Australia and New Zealand, the response this week and the coverage has been – I can’t explain it.
“Like the response and the support I’ve got from everyone and even over here how welcoming everyone is, I can’t believe it. Dream come true.”
All weekend long, the three-time Australian Supercars winner appeared to be a serious contender. He finished first in qualifying and began third despite being the quickest in practice on Saturday.
Van Gisbergen was one of the final drivers to pit and had fresher tires when NASCAR announced it would cut the scheduled 100-lap race on the 2.2-mile, 12-turn course around Grant Park area near the banks of Lake Michigan to 75 laps because of darkness.
Before taking the lead with a pass of Haley on a restart on lap 71, he raced down the leaders late in the race, at times going more than a second faster each lap.
Van Gisbergen’s race this weekend was made possible by Trackhouse’s Project 91, which offers cars to well-known drivers from around the world so they can test their skills in Cup competition.
Kyle Larson came in fourth, Chase Elliott came in third after starting the race in a backup vehicle from the back of the pack, and Kyle Busch overcame an early collision to come in fifth.
Austin Cindric, Michael McDowell, Joey Logano, Ty Gibbs, and Chris Buescher round out the top ten.
Due to floods on the route and excessive rain, Sunday’s race was postponed by more than an hour and a half. At roughly 6:38 p.m. ET, it eventually turned green with a single file start.
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Shane van Gisbergen, Trackhouse Racing, Nascar, Nascar 2023, Nascar Cup Series, Chicago Street Race