Shane van Gisbergen Makes History with Victory in Wet and Wild Chicago Street Race
Shane van Gisbergen, a New Zealand native, made an extraordinary debut in the NASCAR Cup Series by winning a rain-soaked street race in downtown Chicago.
In an exciting finish to the series’ inaugural street race, van Gisbergen showcased his skill by overtaking Justin Haley and Chase Elliott.
After surpassing Elliott, van Gisbergen engaged in a fierce battle with Haley in the closing laps, ultimately taking the lead and securing a remarkable victory. Haley held onto second place, while Elliott finished in third.
At 34 years old, Shane van Gisbergen made history by becoming the first driver since Johnny Rutherford in 1963 to win their NASCAR Cup Series debut. His triumph in Chicago marked a significant milestone in his racing career.
Reflecting on his victory, van Gisbergen expressed his excitement and appreciation for the incredible crowd support.
In his post-race interview on NBC, he praised the high-quality racing and the respectful conduct of his fellow competitors. Van Gisbergen described the experience as tough but immensely enjoyable.
Van Gisbergen had the opportunity to drive the No. 91 Chevrolet in Chicago as part of Trackhouse Racing’s Project 91, aimed at expanding the team’s global presence.
His strong performance contributed to the team’s first lap led in three starts, showcasing their potential for success.
Shane van Gisbergen Joining an Exclusive Club: International NASCAR Winners
By claiming victory in his debut race, Shane van Gisbergen joined a select group of six drivers born outside the United States who have won a NASCAR Cup Series race.
The prestigious list includes Marcos Ambrose, Mario Andretti, Juan Pablo Montoya, Earl Ross, and Daniel Suárez.
Van Gisbergen received valuable support in his NASCAR debut from Darian Grubb, his crew chief. Grubb previously guided Tony Stewart to a Cup Series championship in 2011, and his expertise played a crucial role in van Gisbergen’s success.
The race faced significant hurdles due to adverse weather conditions. Historic rainfall led to a delay of over 90 minutes, causing flooding on the course.
Although the race was shortened due to fading sunlight, Shane van Gisbergen victory remained a testament to his exceptional driving skills.
Despite the drying track and teams switching to slick tires, water continued to splash around whenever drivers encountered tire barriers.
Multiple incidents occurred, with drivers like Gragson, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Hamlin, and Elliott sliding into the barriers, creating tense moments in the race.
During the 50th lap, a massive pileup involving 14 cars occurred on Michigan Avenue, resulting in a course obstruction.
This dramatic incident added to the excitement of the race and likely brought a wry smile to local Chicago drivers familiar with the area.