Chicago NASCAR Xfinity Series race won by Shane van Gisbergen


Chicago NASCAR Xfinity Series race won by Shane van Gisbergen originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

When it comes to the streets of Chicago — or any road course, really — van Gisbergen is one of NASCAR’s best drivers.

The 35-year-old New Zealand native proved it again Saturday, pulling away from Ty Gibbs for his third Xfinity Series victory of the season.

Van Gisbergen started on the pole before dropping back after a pit stop. He then made his way through the field before moving in front following a late restart. He led four times for a total of 14 laps.

“It was a bit frustrating all the yellows coming out,” he said. “But managed to make spots every restart and keep moving forward. Had some awesome battles coming through.”

Van Gisbergen got his first two Xfinity wins for Kaulig Racing on road courses at Portland and Sonoma on consecutive weekends last month. Just like he did after those victories, he celebrated by autographing a rugby ball and kicking it into the stands in Chicago.

Gibbs was second, followed by Kyle Larson, Parker Kligerman and rookie Jesse Love.

“Just needed to be a little bit better, a little tighter,” Gibbs said. “I felt like we were pretty solid all day.”

Larson and van Gisbergen dueled throughout the first stage in a possible preview for Sunday. Larson is on the pole for the Cup Series race.

“I was having a blast,” Larson said. “I felt like, you know, obviously. I wanted to win today, but I wanted to learn more than anything. And I wanted to get to battle with him because he’s just really good at creating shapes and angles and passing.”

A three-time champion in Australia’s Supercars, van Gisbergen was a largely unknown commodity in the U.S. before he won last summer in NASCAR’s rainy inaugural weekend on the downtown Chicago course. He became the first driver to win his Cup Series debut since Johnny Rutherford in the second qualifying race at Daytona in 1963.

This time around, he has been closely watched every time he gets into his car — and he seems to be dealing just fine with the increased attention.

“Obviously, everyone’s had expectations, but I think I’ve just been treating it like every other week,” he said. “As I said yesterday when I was in here, I’m more focused on the ovals at the moment and these things are kind of a holiday or a fun weekend.

“I still studied hard for this and wanted to be good at it. Yeah, go right out, and just did my thing.”

Love led for 14 laps in a bid for a second Xfinity Series win for his impressive rookie season. But he was unable to hold on at the end.

The 19-year-old Love won at Talladega in April in his ninth start for Richard Childress Racing. He was in a prime position at Atlanta in February before running out of gas.

The Xfinity Series goes to Pocono Raceway next weekend.



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