SVG Rolls In Xfinity Series’ Chicago Street Race

van Gisbergen

Shane van Gisbergen celebrates with a burnout after winning Saturday at the Chicago Street Course. (HHP/Chris Owens photo)

CHICAGO – Shane van Gisbergen retained his undefeated record on the streets of Chicago with a masterful NASCAR Xfinity Series victory in Saturday’s The Loop 110.

The 35-year-old New Zealand native battled early with NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Larson, was shuffled back into traffic via pit strategy, then ultimately drove his way from 20th to the victory in the second half.

Van Gisbergen’s winning move came following a restart with three laps left, when he advanced forward from third and got past fellow Sunoco rookie-of-the-year contender Jesse Love entering turn six.

From there, van Gisbergen drove away by 1.287 seconds over Ty Gibbs, capturing his second NASCAR trophy in two races at the 2.2-mile Chicago Street Course.

“What a great race. It was pretty wild there at the end,” said van Gisbergen, who won last year’s Chicago Cup Series race in his premier series debut and starts fifth for his return visit Sunday, after his third Xfinity Series triumph of the year.

“I can’t thank my Kaulig Racing guys enough; the WeatherTech Camaro was amazing all race,” he continued. “It was a great race at the start with Kyle [Larson]. He was really good on the restarts, but we made our car better on the second set of tires to get going back forward. That was so much fun at the end, though, passing all those guys. That was great racing with everyone and cool to get the job done.”

With Saturday’s triumph, van Gisbergen joins an exclusive list of drivers to have won three road course races in a row in the Xfinity Series. NASCAR Hall of Famer Terry Labonte did so from 1994-’96 and A.J. Allmendinger followed suit from 2021-’22.

The Kiwi also took the series lead for victories this year and moved into the No. 1 seed on the playoff leaderboard with eight races remaining in the regular season.

Asked if he now “owns the city of Chicago,” however, van Gisbergen’s humility shone through.

“Of course not, but it is a privilege to race here,” he tipped. “What NASCAR has done here is amazing.”

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As mentioned, van Gisbergen and Larson put on a scintillating show early, trading the top spot four times during the opening 15-lap stage alone. After van Gisbergen took the first stage honors, Larson took control on the next restart before a turn-six crash by A.J. Allmendinger on lap 23 shuffled the strategy.

It was at that point that van Gisbergen and Larson pitted for their lone round of service during the race, handing the front row to Xfinity Series regulars Sammy Smith and Austin Hill midway through stage two.

Hill went on to win the second stage, after Larson and van Gisbergen had to begin their rallies through traffic from 17th and 20th, respectively.

The final stage began with the top seven having pitted at lap 17, and van Gisbergen, Larson, and Mosack filling out the top 10. Nineteen-year-old Jesse Love beat his teammate Hill to turn one to take the lead on the lap-35 restart, gaining control as van Gisbergen began his final charge to the front.

Amid the chaos of three caution flags, Love led for 14 consecutive laps – tying the total van Gisbergen spent out front – but didn’t have enough to hold the eventual race winner back at the end.

Following Leland Honeyman Jr.’s crash in turn one, the final green flag waved with three to go. That was when van Gisbergen dispatched Gibbs quickly, before lying patiently in wait until turn six, when he deftly maneuvered past Love on the inside lane to grab the lead for good.

Gibbs got past Love for the runner-up spot but had nothing for the race’s dominant driver at the end, after losing too much track position early on due to an issue on pit road.

“We had a bad pit stop [at lap 17] and got behind. We had a (tire) gun blow out, so it was nobody’s fault – just part of it. We just got behind,” explained Gibbs afterward. “I had to use, I feel like, a good bit of my stuff to get back all the way to the front. Then I was just too loose – we were kind of loose the whole time.

“It was just hard there at the end. [Restarting on driver’s left] is really hard because it’s super dirty up there, so you’re just up in the fuzz the whole time off of (turn) 12,” he added. “I don’t know what I could’ve done differently there. Just needed to be a little bit better.”

Larson got back to third at the finish, followed by Parker Kligerman, who turned in a season-best finish of fourth for Big Machine Racing after starting from the rear of the field.

Love closed the top five, with Connor Mosack, Hill, two-time Cup Series champion Joey Logano, Justin Allgaier, and Austin Green crossing sixth through 10th.

After running inside the top five during the final restart, Sheldon Creed was left with a disappointing 26th-place finish due to contact with Kligerman off of turn 11 coming to two laps to go.

Seven cautions slowed Saturday’s race for a total of 16 laps, with the most notable of those occurring for a seven-car crash in turn 11 on lap 36 that eliminated Andre Castro, Parker Retzlaff, Josh Bilicki, and Sage Karam.

The 50-lap race was run in one hour, 59 minutes, and 11 seconds at an average speed of 56.527 mph.

The next stop for the NASCAR Xfinity Series is July 13 at Pennsylvania’s Pocono Raceway, with the running of the Explore the Pocono Mountains 225 at the 2.5-mile, triangular racetrack.

Broadcast coverage is slated for 3 p.m. ET, live on USA, the Motor Racing Network, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.

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About Jacob Seelman

Jacob Seelman is Motorsports Hotspot’s News Editor and Race Face Digital’s Director of Content, as well as a veteran of more than a decade in the racing industry as a professional, though he’s spent his entire life in the garage and pit area.