By Jay Cohen – AP Sports Writer
CHICAGO (AP) – When Shane Van Gisbergen got a call from Justin Marks, it rekindled his interest in the NASCAR Cup Series. He studied races, drivers and cars.
Turns out he is a very good student.
Van Gisbergen won a memorable finish to the first street race of the series, beating Justin Haley and Chase Elliott in his Cup Series debut in downtown Chicago on a rainy Sunday.
After passing Elliott, van Gisbergen dueled with Healy in the final lap before the three-time Supercar champion moved away for ever. Haley finished second and Elliott third.
Van Gisbergen said, “The racing, the battles were really fun.” “But everyone was respectful and clean. It was really great.”
The 34-year-old Van Gisbergen, a New Zealand native, became the first driver since Johnny Rutherford in 1963 to win his Cup Series debut in the second qualifying race at Daytona.
He got the chance to drive the No. 91 Chevrolet at Chicago as part of Trackhouse Racing. project 91, The trackhouse is owned by Marques, and the Project 91 program aims to give international drivers a chance in NASCAR.
“It was a shower idea,” Marks said. “I mean this was me thinking I am a huge fan of all different types of motorsports and I have raced in all different types of motorsports. I wanted to bring my love of global motorsport to NASCAR.
When van Gisbergen was credited with the lead on lap 25, it was the first lap for the Project 91 to lead in three starts. He became the sixth driver born outside the United States to win a NASCAR Cup Series race, joining Marcos Ambrose, Mario Andretti, Juan Pablo Montoya, Earl Ross, and Daniel Suarez.
Elliott said, “He’ll go home and tell all his friends how bad we are.”
Van Gisbergen won his first Supercar championship in 2016 and has added two more championships in the last two years. He was helped in his NASCAR debut by Darian Grubb, who was Tony Stewart’s crew chief when he won the Cup Series championship in 2011.
Trackhouse Racing also won last weekend’s Cup Series race Ross Chastain at Nashville Superspeedway.
Van Gisbergen said, “I was a big fan of Tony Stewart, so working with Darian was very special.”
Kyle Larson finished fourth at Chicago, followed by Kyle Busch and Austin Cindric. Christopher Bell won two stages and led 37 laps of the race, but finished 18th.
The race was scheduled for 100 laps and 220 miles, but was shortened due to sunlight after a delay of more than 90 minutes due to historic rains flooding the course. last part of xfinity raceIt was set to resume after being suspended on Saturday due to lightning, but was cancelled.
Just before the scheduled start, as rain continued, pole-sitter Denny Hamlin took to twitter to lobby for delay, and Noah Gragson posted video One of his tires was floating on pit road. NASCAR then decided to allow drivers to return to their haulers.
NASCAR chief operating officer Steve O’Donnell said that he had never planned to start at that point.
“What we wanted to do was get everything we needed to be able to get the engines started and take care of us,” he said. “So that when we know the track is ready to go, you know we’re not going through anthems and driver introductions and things like that.”
Eventually the weather cleared, but when the race started there were potholes along the way. Even as it began to dry out – and teams began to break in their slick tires – water splattered everywhere whenever a driver slammed into a tire barrier.
“It’s definitely added a dynamic to the race that’s not very unusual,” Elliott said. “We have gone through that scenario before. But adding it to an already new and different environment and different circuit was a bit strange.
Gregson, Busch and Joey Logano all pitted in turn 6 due to pit stops. Hamlin and Elliott spun into the tire pack in Turn 2. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was hit by Bubba Wallace and got stuck in the tire barrier late in Turn 1. Caste.
there was also a massive stack On the 50th lap, 14 cars turning onto East Jackson Drive from Michigan Avenue blocked the road and almost certainly put a smile on the faces of Chicago regulars familiar with the area.
“It was definitely a first class event. “I definitely enjoyed it and hopefully we’ll be back tomorrow,” said Haley. “I don’t know about the back half of the grid, but yeah, awesome. Happy to be a part of it.”
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