Updated: Jul 11
CHICAGO - History was made in the inaugural NASCAR Cup Series race at the Chicago Street Course when three-time Repco Supercars champion Shane van Gisbergen took Trackhouse Racing's PROJECT91 entry to Victory Lane in the Windy City on debut in the Grant Park 220.
Despite Chicago experiencing the most rainfall ever on July 2 in the history of its existence, not even Mother Nature could prevent the No. 91 Chevrolet from conquering the competition and taking the special Justin Marks-backed program for international racing stars to Victory Lane. The three-time Repco Supercar Champion and 2022 GRID Ranking World Champion took on the top stock car drivers in the world and made it look easy, holding off Justin Haley and Chase Elliott in NASCAR Overtime.
After an incredible weekend for the native New Zealander, SVG made history by becoming the first driver since Johnny Rutherford in 1963 and the seventh driver ever to win his Cup Series debut.
In his post-race interview, SVG kept his answers brief but remained humble about the opportunity to compete in NASCAR.
"Thank you so much to the Trackhouse team and Enhance Health, Project91," van Gisbergen said. "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."
If the NASCAR world didn't know who SVG was before the street race in Chicago, they definitely know him now after he drove an impressive race, restarting 18th in the final stage and driving all the way to the front of the field despite losing tons of track position. Van Gisbergen even left the Cup Series regulars speechless and very impressed by his raw speed, considering this was his first time driving a Cup car.
Fourth-place finisher Kyle Larson almost couldn't believe what he was witnessing as the driver of the No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet struggled to keep up with the Supercars star.
"Him (van Gisbergen) out my windshield making the moves he was making and taking us all to school," Larson said. "So, he is an extremely amazing race car driver and I hope the rest of the world notices that. It's pretty damn cool. So just a pleasure to get to race with him and battle with him a little bit. I know all of Western Springs Speedway in New Zealand is pretty pumped up right now.”
Larson's Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Elliott, congratulated SVG for putting on a clinic and said his drive made all the Cup drivers look really bad. Elliott added that he's looking forward to getting to work and figuring out how to be more competitive with SVG the next time he competes in NASCAR.
Van Gisbergen also made a bit of news in his post-race interview with NBC Sports when he was asked if he'd be interested in coming over to America full-time to race in the Cup Series.
"I’m doing one more year in Aus. and then I’d love to come over here," van Gisbergen said.
While he's committed to his Red Bull Ampol Racing team in Supercars through the end of the 2024 season, winning on debut in Chicago may open some doors for SVG to make the jump to NASCAR in 2025 if he wants a new challenge in motorsports, similar to Scott McLaughlin, who left Supercars for the NTT IndyCar Series in 2021.
Additionally, SVG becomes the only driver in GRID Ranking history to score a point in three separate series (Repco Supercars, World Rally Championship and NASCAR).
The No. 91 Chevrolet earned 55 points after finishing third in Stage 1 and fourth in Stage 2.
Results from the inaugural Grant Park 220 at the Chicago Street Course are listed below.
Other Race Facts
Trackhouse Racing earned back-to-back NASCAR Cup Series victories for the first time in team history. Ross Chastain won last weekend in Nashville, and Shane van Gisbergen won this weekend in Chicago.
Justin Haley led a career-high 23 laps en route to his best finish of second place in the Next Gen era.
The 37-car field was a Chevrolet sandwich, as the top five and bottom four finishers all carried the bowtie.
RFK Racing's Chris Buescher earned his eighth consecutive top-10 finish on a road/street course, which is the longest active streak in the Cup Series.
Noah Gragson's No. 42 Legacy Motor Club Chevrolet hit the Turn 6 tire barriers a total of three times on three separate occasions, in what continues to be a difficult rookie season in the premier series for the Las Vegas native.
The 2023 GRID Ranking is the seventh year of the world's premier motorsport ranking and was initially released on Sunday, April 2.
Drivers in the seven racing series participating in the ranking (NASCAR, IndyCar, Formula 1, Formula E, World Rally Championship, Repco Supercars, MotoGP) have earned GRID Ratings, which helped determine their seeding during Week 13 of the 2023 GRID Ranking.
MOST RECENT FINISH
Martin Truex Jr.
Week 14 of the GRID Ranking:
The next race on the schedule for the NASCAR Cup Series will take place at Atlanta Motor Speedway at 7 p.m. ET on Sunday, July 9 on USA Network.
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