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Shane van Gisbergen Wins Inaugural Chicago Street Race on Debut

Written by Sean McKean, Edited by Vyas Ponnuri

Shane van Gisbergen wins on debut. Image credit -

Shane van Gisbergen took a historic victory in NASCAR on debut, the first man to do so in over 60 years, as he guided the #91 car to victory lane on the streets of Chicago, in an action-packed race riddled with crashes, cautions, weather changes, and even deteriorating weather conditions. Here is your rundown of the epic race, stage-by-stage:

Stage 1

Off a wet race start, pole-sitter Denny Hamlin would be jumped into turn four by 23XI’s Tyler Reddick. Hamlin’s race would get worse though, as he would spin into the tyre barriers a few minutes later.

He wouldn’t be the only one involved in an incident in the treacherous conditions though, as there would be plenty to go around throughout the field. Aric Almirola ended up going for a spin at turn four. Later in the same lap, at turn six, Erik Jones would lock up, sending both him and Brad Keselowski, as well as his teammate Noah Gragson into the tyre barrier.

Despite the number of incidents - all the aforementioned ones occurring within the first three laps - the first caution would not come out until lap four, when Kyle Busch hit the tyre barriers hard after locking the rears, burying his car under it. Even with the impact, Busch’s car remained intact.

Reddick led the field back to green a bit later, but lost the lead to Joe Gibbs’s Christopher Bell after a mistake. The chaos in the slippery conditions would continue, with Todd Gilliland finding himself off the road on lap 19. It wouldn’t take long for the second caution to come out, as Noah Gragson found himself in the turn 6 tyre barrier. Fortunately for the Legacy Motor Club driver, his car would be relatively unaffected by his second crash of the day.

Bell would retain his lead on the ensuing restart on lap 26, and keep it to the end of the stage, winning the first stage, ahead of Tyler Reddick and van Gisbergen.

Bell, Reddick, and van Gisbergen; Credit - Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Stage 2

Since stage cautions do not come out on road courses, the race continued as usual, the ‘usual’ being crashes. Ryan Blaney found himself into the wall, breaking the alignment in his car. Joey Logano and Chase Elliott would be the next drivers to find the tyre barrier, but they would continue on unharmed.

Jenson Button would find himself into the pit road barrels, having attempted to pit from the high side of the track. He would end up colliding with RFK’s Chris Buescher, going into a spin.

With the track finally beginning to dry up, many drivers decided to make the switch to slicks, including Bell and Reddick. Though it would only be for a lap, Shane van Gisbergen would lead a NASCAR Cup Series lap, before making the switch to slicks.

The third caution would come out a bit later though, and it would end up being a third crash for Noah Gragson, hitting the tyre barrier in the same spot he did twice before this crash.

On the restart, Bell would retain the lead. He kept his composure, but the same couldn’t be said for Hendrick’s Alex Bowman, as he would bring out the next caution, following a bump from Denny Hamlin. Despite a harmless-looking spin, Bowman would have to spend a lot of time on pit road for an engine issue.

The race would restart with two laps left in the stage, but it would not last long. Halfway through the lap, Bowman would return to the track, but his car blew up due to a broken oil line.

The stage would end under caution with Christopher Bell winning the stage, with Kyle Larson and Tyler Reddick following suit.

Final Stage

As the green flag flew on the final stage of the race, another problem came to light: the deteriorating visibility. With the sun setting quickly, and sight becoming more difficult, the drivers were on the clock to make it to the end before darkness fell. NASCAR race control would ultimately make the decision to finish the race on lap 75 itself, instead of the scheduled lap 100.

With more pressure on the drivers as the end loomed nearer, the green flag flew. Having stayed out, Kaulig’s Justin Haley would head the field.

Calamity would strike on lap 49, and it would begin to unfold when William Byron locked up in turn nine and hit the tyre barrier. In avoidance, Kevin Harvick and Corey LaJoie spun at the exit of turn nine. As a result, this would stack up the whole field, completely changing the running order. Of the people who pit, the only ones to get ahead of the carnage would be Tyler Reddick, Ty Gibbs, and Daniel Suarez.

Justin Haley would lead the field to the green once again, from Austin Dillon. Martin Truex Jr would find himself facing the wrong way in turn six, although a caution wouldn’t be needed. At the end of the restart lap, Bubba Wallace found himself in the run-off. Meanwhile, Noah Gragson found himself in the barriers for a fourth time. In the meantime, Todd Gilliland would get sent into a half spin, giving Suarez big damage on the left side.

The race would unfold even more somehow, with 18 to go, as Tyler Reddick would find himself buried under the tyre barrier. He was able to continue on unscathed, though.

The ensuing restart with 15 to go would bring Austin Dillon closer to the rear of the Kaulig sophomore, getting a mirror-full of the RCR driver. It wouldn’t last long, as Dillon would find the wall trying to put pressure on Haley, having to settle for a DNF.

Haley would find comfort in a decent lead over Chase Elliott, but the pressure would be back on his neck, with Shane van Gisbergen carving his way through the field. Just as a pass for the lead was about to happen on Haley, the caution would come out with eight laps, to go after Martin Truex Jr found the tyre barrier in turn one.

On the five-to-go restart, van Gisbergen would quickly find his way by. Though Haley would give a good fight initially, the three-time Supercars champion would take a commanding lead. There was no shortage of drama either, as an overtime restart would be triggered, when Ricky Stenhouse and Bubba Wallace went into the turn one barrier.

Van Gisbergen would bode well with the final restart pressure, winning the inaugural Chicago street race on debut, becoming the first driver of the modern era to win in his first race. Justin Haley would finish second, fighting hard until the very end. Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson finished third and fourth, with Kyle Busch rounding out the top five.

For the next bit of NASCAR action, they will be back on the flat-out superspeedway of Atlanta, on July 9.

van Gisbergen celebrates his sensational triumph. Credit - NASCAR

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