Shane van Gisbergen wins Race in NASCAR Cup Series

New Zealand’s Shane van Gisbergen achieved a remarkable milestone by winning his NASCAR Cup Series. On his debut at the inaugural Chicago Street Race, becoming the first driver in over 50 years to accomplish this feat. The race faced delays due to severe weather. Resulting in a reduction of the race distance from 100 laps to 75.

Driving for Trackhouse Racing’s “Project 91,” van Gisbergen seized the lead on the 71st lap, overtaking Justin Haley after a restart. A late caution caused by a collision between Bubba Wallace and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. on the 74th lap. That extended the race into a two-lap overtime. Despite Haley’s challenge, the New Zealand driver successfully defended his position. They emerged victorious in the Grant Park 220 with a lead of 1.259 seconds.

Van Gisbergen said on the NBC broadcast after the race

“Man, what an experience in the crowd out here, this was so cool. 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.”

Haley secured second place in the race, while Chase Elliott finished in third. Christopher Bell, the winner of the race’s first two stages, encountered misfortune when he was involved in a multi-car incident that blocked the track on the 50th lap. He ultimately crashed out of the top position and finished in 18th place.

Van Gisbergen, a three-time Australian Supercars champion. Now joins an elite group of only seven drivers in the history of the NASCAR Cup Series who have won in their first start. The last driver to achieve this feat was Johnny Rutherford in 1963, following his victory in a qualifying race at Daytona.

“Project 91” by Trackhouse Racing aims to provide international drivers with an opportunity to compete in NASCAR. Previously, former Formula 1 champion Kimi Räikkönen raced under the No. 91 banner, finishing in 37th place at Watkins Glen in 2022 and 29th place at the Circuit of the Americas in 2023.

When asked about the possibility of racing full-time in the Cup Series, the 34-year-old van Gisbergen mentioned that he plans to continue racing in Australia for another year before considering a potential move to NASCAR, expressing his enthusiasm for the opportunity.
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