NASCAR ran its first ever street course race this weekend in Chicago, and it lived up to the hype.
The race was delayed after heavy rain flooded the 2.2 mile track set up around Grant Park in Chicago. And NASCAR ended up having to shorten the scheduled distance due to running out of daylight.
But at the end of the race, Shane van Gisbergen ended up with his first ever NASCAR win.
And if his name doesn’t sound familiar, it’s because he’s not even a NASCAR driver.
Van Gisbergen is a champion driver in the Australian Supercars Championship series, and the New Zealand native was making his first EVER start in NASCAR this weekend driving the #91 car for Trackhouse Racing.
A wrench was thrown into the already-bizarre race when NASCAR announced that, due to the sun setting and the lack of light, the race would be shortened from the scheduled 100 laps to just 75.
Coming to a restart with just five laps to go, Van Gisbergen took the lead from Justin Haley (I can’t believe I’m even writing that sentence) and never looked back – despite a caution sending the race into overtime after Bubba Wallace slid into Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and sent him into the tire barrier.
The win makes van Gisbergen the first driver to win in his first NASCAR start since 1963, when Johnny Rutherford won the Daytona Duels in his first race behind the wheel. He also becomes the first driver from New Zealand to win a NASCAR race.
It was a great weekend all around for the driver of the #91 car, who qualified third in the part-time ride for Trackhouse Racing’s Project 91 car, which gives drivers from outside of NASCAR the opportunity to compete at the sport’s highest level.
The win also marks the second straight victory for Trackhouse Racing, after Ross Chastain dominated last week’s race at Nashville Superspeedway to take the checkered flag.