Kiwi Power: New Zealander Shane Van Gisbergen Wins Chicago Street Race In NASCAR Cup Series Debut  

By Reid Spencer

NASCAR Wire Service

CHICAGO—When the Grant Park 220 turned topsy-turvy at the 49-lap mark, the change didn’t slow New Zealander Shane van Gisbergen, the first driver to win a race in his first NASCAR Cup Series start since Johnny Rutherford accomplished the feat 60 years ago. 

Driving the No. 91 Chevrolet under the aegis of Trackhouse Racing’s Project 91 program, the three-time Supercars champion charged from eighth on a Lap 61 restart to the front of the field and won the series’ first-ever street race on the Chicago Street Course in overtime. 

Asked whether he thought victory was possible in his NASCAR debut, Van Gisbergen chuckled. 

“No, of course not, but you always dream of it,” he said. “Thank you so much to the Trackhouse team and (sponsor) Enhance Health, Project91. What an experience in the crowd out here. This was so cool. This is what you dream of. Hopefully, I can come and do more.” 

What changed the tenor of the race dramatically was NASCAR’s decision near the midpoint of the event to shorten the race from the scheduled 100 laps to 75, putting a large group of cars that had pitted on Lap 43 inside their fuel window.  

After the previously dominant cars of Christopher Bell, Kyle Larson and Tyler Reddick pitted with others for tires and fuel on Lap 47—Van Gisbergen among them—Justin Haley, Austin Dillon and Chase Elliott led the field to green on a single-file restart on Lap 49. At the time Van Gisbergen was 18th, but not for long. 

“Wow, when we had that back strategy back to 18th, I started to worry a bit, but the racing was really good,” said Van Gisbergen. “Everyone was respectful. It was tough, but a lot of fun.” 

The Kiwi passed Haley for the lead on Lap 71 and beat him to the finish line by 1.259 seconds, after the sliding car of Bubba Wallace knocked Ricky Stenhouse’s Chevrolet into the Turn 1 tire barrier to cause the ninth caution on Lap 74 and force overtime. 

The decision to shorten the race was a saving grace for Elliott, who had crashed his No. 9 Chevrolet during qualifying and started from the rear of the field in a backup car. Elliott held third after the final restart and finished ahead of Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kyle Larson and Kyle Busch, who were fourth and fifth, respectively. 

“Once they changed that race distance, we got pretty fortunate to end up being able to make it on gas,” Elliott said. “We kind of inadvertently flipped the strategy.” 

Haley, who started 36th after crashing in practice on Saturday, said he was beaten by a world-class driver on 16-lap better tires. 

“Yeah, it was tough,” Haley said. “I put it in the tire barrier yesterday and we stayed up all night. I stayed with the guys through the rain and rewrapped this thing, put a new body on it… 

“Obviously congrats to Project91. It sucks, obviously, where we are right now we don’t have a… we aren’t in position to win every week, so coming that close obviously is not what you want. 

“But just really proud of everyone at Kaulig Racing and what an awesome event. Can’t wait to come back next year.” 

Shortening the race wasn’t what Bell wanted or needed. He had overtaken Reddick for the lead on Lap 9 and won the first 20-lap stage by a comfortable margin. After a cycle of green-flag pit stops, Bell held an advantage of nearly nine seconds before Noah Gragson’s third adventure into the Turn 6 tire barrier caused the third caution on Lap 29. 

By then, drivers had transitioned from wet tires at the start of the event to slicks as the racing line dried out. 

Bell survived two subsequent cautions and won Stage 2 under yellow after Alex Bowman stopped on the track at the exit from Turn 5 because of engine issues. By then, Larson had worked his way into the second position and was hounding Bell before the caution. 

After the field flipped, Bell finished 18th, thanks to a late spin into a tire barrier. 

Delayed for nearly 75 minutes by rain, the historic race was eventful from the start. As soon as the green flag waved, Reddick pulled even with pole winner Denny Hamlin. The drivers raced side-by-side until Reddick cleared Hamlin through Turn 5. 

Aric Almirola spun near Turn 6 on the opening lap. Erik Jones drove too deep into Turn 6 and collected Brad Keselowski and Gragson. All three drivers extricated themselves from the tire barrier and continued. 

On Lap 2, Hamlin slid sideways into the tire barrier on the outside of Turn 2 and lost 11 positions. A lap later, Busch lost control while making a move off the racing line and plowed nose-first into the tire barrier, causing the race’s first caution. 

After a safety crew pulled Busch’s No. 8 Chevrolet from the barrier with a tether, Busch rejoined the field without losing a lap. On Lap 13, Gragson buried the nose of his No. 42 Chevy into the barrier in Turn 6, which proved an early trouble spot on the wet street course.  

Hamlin never recovered from his accident and finished 11th. Busch, on the other hand, took advantage of his early pit stop to come home fifth. 

Austin Cindric, Michael McDowell, Joey Logano, Ty Gibbs and Chris Buescher completed the top 10. 


NASCAR Cup Series Race – Grant Park 220

Chicago Street Race

Chicago, Illinois

Sunday, July 2, 2023

                  1. (3)  Shane Van Gisbergen, Chevrolet, 78.

                  2. (37)  Justin Haley, Chevrolet, 78.

                  3. (26)  Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 78.

                  4. (7)  Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 78.

                  5. (18)  Kyle Busch, Chevrolet, 78.

                  6. (31)  Austin Cindric, Ford, 78.

                  7. (6)  Michael McDowell, Ford, 78.

                  8. (9)  Joey Logano, Ford, 78.

                  9. (12)  Ty Gibbs #, Toyota, 78.

                  10. (15)  Chris Buescher, Ford, 78.

                  11. (1)  Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 78.

                  12. (24)  Aric Almirola, Ford, 78.

                  13. (22)  William Byron, Chevrolet, 78.

                  14. (19)  Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 78.

                  15. (28)  Ryan Preece, Ford, 78.

                  16. (21)  Erik Jones, Chevrolet, 78.

                  17. (10)  AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 78.

                  18. (4)  Christopher Bell, Toyota, 78.

                  19. (25)  Todd Gilliland, Ford, 78.

                  20. (16)  Chase Briscoe, Ford, 78.

                  21. (8)  Jenson Button, Ford, 78.

                  22. (34)  Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 78.

                  23. (27)  Josh Bilicki(i), Chevrolet, 78.

                  24. (20)  Brad Keselowski, Ford, 78.

                  25. (23)  Noah Gragson #, Chevrolet, 78.

                  26. (30)  Andy Lally, Ford, 78.

                  27. (5)  Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, 78.

                  28. (2)  Tyler Reddick, Toyota, 78.

                  29. (35)  Kevin Harvick, Ford, 78.

                  30. (32)  Harrison Burton, Ford, 78.

                  31. (14)  Bubba Wallace, Toyota, 78.

                  32. (11)  Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 77.

                  33. (17)  Ryan Blaney, Ford, 77.

                  34. (36)  Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 77.

                  35. (33)  Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, Suspension, 67.

                  36. (29)  Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, Accident, 62.

                  37. (13)  Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, Accident, 40.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  60.281 mph.

Time of Race:  2 Hrs, 50 Mins, 48 Secs. Margin of Victory:  1.259 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  9 for 21 laps.

Lead Changes:  7 among 5 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   D. Hamlin 0;T. Reddick 1-8;C. Bell 9-24;S. Van Gisbergen 25;T. Gibbs # 26;C. Bell 27-47;J. Haley 48-70;S. Van Gisbergen 71-78.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Christopher Bell 2 times for 37 laps; Justin Haley 1 time for 23 laps; Shane Van Gisbergen 2 times for 9 laps; Tyler Reddick 1 time for 8 laps; Ty Gibbs # 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 20,45,91,19,34,99,5,16,54,15

Stage #2 Top Ten: 20,5,45,91,34,54,99,19,16,14


  1. If you hated that, please move on from the sport. you are the problem and holding it back.

  2. Earlier in the race I’m watching Preece who was climbing nicely from 18th or so to the top ten and wondering if growing up in the Northeast with slippery roads could possibly help him negotiating the wet conditions. Apparently not as he faded and an invading kiwi wins it. A completely under rated fruit and fun just saying kiwi but pulling off a win in his first outing?
    The event took a lot of abuse when it was announced. Looks like the feedback on social media is overwhelmingly positive and I completely agree. That race was super fun and in wet conditions no less who’d a thunk it.

  3. I went into this thinking, “another stupid idea” – I came away thinking, what an awesome event!

    From the moment I tuned into Xfinity coverage on Sat, I was really blown away.. the layout, the build, the surroundings, the camera angles (really showing off the city and skyline).. yea, they were hyping this big time, but it really lived up to it. This was no dirt or Coliseum manufactured mess, this was well thought, designed and fan friendly – on site or on TV – just showcased the city in the best possible way. Looked like an F1 event…

    How they ever got the show in on Sunday is beyond me, I assumed it was a washout. SVG winning this event (imo) was the best possible outcome, what a shot in the arm for NASCAR on the global scale. First time in a cup car, SVG put on a clinic – so impressed!!

    On a sunny day, this would be brilliant, a different outcome, perhaps (for many drivers), but SVG had superior skills and it showed. Hats off to anyone in the top 10 and a 15th place finish for our boy, a great outcome, considering the hazards, track position, etc.

    I’ll be tuning in next year for sure!

  4. Street races are my favorite Aussie Supercar events, I hope it catches on here. For years, I’ve hoped NASCAR foruld try it. Shane Van Gisbergen didn’t leave his Aussie success on street courses behind!

  5. Suitcase Jake says

    The street race was a ROARING SUCCESS… Van Gisbergen taught them you don’t have to use the bumper every time to pass …. He really stole the show & did a Fantastic Job … Very Impressive … Trackhouse seems to be forward thinking CO….This program of bringing in Champions of other disciplines of motor sports is great for Nascar along with bringing in fans from down under to tune in and watch their Champion compete against the best of Cup drivers… This can only get better from here from a marketing standpoint.
    Other teams will do the same … TV viewership will increase … especially in Europe along with Australia , New Zealand …etc … I wonder what the ratings were in those Countries in the middle of the “night”… I was really enjoying the newness of the Event… With better weather the weekend would have brought out even more people… Next year will be EPIC…. Preece is turning in solid top 15’s each week.. The Team is getting consistent , showing some life.. Can’t wait for Martinsville . That will be Ryan’s HIGHEST ODDS of pulling off that all important FIRST WIN.!!!!

  6. That was cool. SVG, what can you say, that’s the Talent I’ve rarely seen. 1st time in a race at the inaugural race and he wins. That race was fun to watch, hope they do more street courses in the future.

  7. The weather was a factor that made the event so much better. The water damped the driving idiocy, and minimized the carnage. If it was dry, there would have been much higher speeds, driving in deeper, and many more accidents. The number of cars on the lead lap, and that there were so few cars off the lead lap and DNFs, was remarkable given the conditions and new venue.

    The Wendy’s Bacon car went into the tire piles like 6 times. 🥓


  8. SVG’s passes for 2nd and the lead were awesome, no bumper needed, just skills… I found it interesting the commentators defaulted to “if he (Haley) can get to his bumper”… can get to him is one thing, but I’m pretty sure we all knew the context, which is just move him out of the way… kinda sad…

    To his credit, Haley had a nice pass there himself, and then got the cross over by SVG..

  9. I agree with all the comments. It was an interesting race. The camera shots showing the skyscrapers in the background were great. The racing was good starting on rain tires and switching to dry. Its the first race I have seen where both tires were used. I think this race is getting a lot of praise due to the fact SVG won the race. It is a great story line for sure.

    I watched the entire race, with an interest in seeing how Preece would do. I dont think I saw him on camera at all. In the rundown on the side of the screen he was running within the top 20 most of the event. Yet little to no TV coverage. How about going through the field every 50 laps or so. Nascar changing the race length while probably necessary, had an impact on the race finish. A tight street course where passing is difficult, and you shorten the race 25 laps. Now cars that pitted can make the end of the race where if it went to the distance they would have had to pit again. Doesn’t seem fair to me. Gave a bunch of cars who pitted track position. I wish they made the decision earlier so everyone was on the same playing field. Ending the xfinity race 2 laps short of halfway is disappointing as well. They cancelled one of the companion concerts which may have been a primary reason for some of the non Nascar fans attendance. All of my complaints or criticism is weather related and you cant control the weather.

    Overall I enjoyed the coverage yesterday. Loved the story line with SVG winning. The racing was entertaining had the weather been better I think it could have been a perfect weekend. I applaud Nascar for trying something different. I am happy all the comments I have seen on this race are positive.

  10. CSG,
    There was a span where the cameras and commentators were focused on Preece when he was battling with Chase Briscoe for position, I think for 14th or 15th place.

  11. I’ve seen the comments saying boy if only the weather would have been fair conditions a good race could have been great. Each to his or her own but to me it was the wet track, the splashing and racing in dreary conditions that was the major attraction being so far out of their usual comfort level.
    I’m guessing the LA Coliseum and dirt race at Bristol have their fans. Seems like expanding the city road racing offerings may be money better spent. How often do we see almost universal approval for anything NASCAR does?

  12. Shawn,

    I must have missed that. I had the race on from start to finish but I admittedly was doing stuff on the computer for a good portion of the race. What I did catch was entertaining. SVG winning at Chi town will probably be the best Nascar story of the season..

  13. Maybe for the road and street courses they should fit the cars with headlights and taillights. The Garage 56 project proved it could be done, and would allow them to race later. There are some iconic street courses that other series run like Long Beach, Nashville, Miami and others. Maybe Nascar could work it out to run those as well. Maybe even run an endurance race down the line. After all, they’re supposed to be the best in the world.

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