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Shane van Gisbergen seeks second consecutive win in Chicago Street Race

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NASCAR: Grant Park 220Jul 2, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Shane Van Gisbergen (91) leads the field on the Balbo Drive bridge on the final lap on his way to win the Grant Park 220 of the Chicago Street Race viewed from the NEMA Chicago buliding. Mandatory Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

In the nation’s Second City this weekend, standout road racer Shane van Gisbergen will be seeking his own second — another NASCAR Cup Series win.

When the Grant Park 165 takes the green flag Sunday for the second running of the Chicago Street Race, all eyes will be on the New Zealander’s return engagement in the Windy City.

The Trackhouse Motorsports driver shocked the NASCAR world one year ago when he won the inaugural Chicago race, locking down the victory as street lamps came to life and darkness descended on the freeways traversing the city.

Nicknamed SVG for brevity’s sake, the Project 91 Chevrolet road-racing specialist worked his way past Justin Haley to win the race, which was shortened by 25 laps due to impending darkness.

The Auckland, New Zealand, native became the first driver to win his debut in NASCAR’s top series in 60 years. Johnny Rutherford won in 1963 at Daytona in a qualifying race, then considered a points event.

van Gisbergen, 35, is only driving a handful of races in Cup this season, but he has already left an indelible mark on the Xfinity Series, where he races the No. 97 Chevrolet full time for Kaulig Racing alongside teammate AJ Allmendinger.

In the first Xfinity Series race of June at Portland Raceway, he beat Justin Allgaier on a restart with four laps to go. The three-time Australian Supercars champion then repeated the following weekend at Sonoma Raceway with another victory, leading 32 of 79 circuits and beating Sheldon Creed for his second career series triumph.

Kaulig team president Chris Rice has been impressed with van Gisbergen and said his style is different from that of Allmendinger, a road-racing ringer.

“It’s a different special,” Rice said. “AJ came into our place and has been one of the best road course racers ever in this sport. His driving style and SVG’s driving style is so different that SVG is going to be the best racer from Australia and the way they do it and he’s got to learn these cars.”

The oddsmakers don’t think his Chicago victory was a fluke.

Via Draft Kings odds, SVG opened as a favorite at +500 followed by Kyle Larson (+600), Christopher Bell (+600), Tyler Reddick (+650) and last year’s third-place finisher Chase Elliott (+800).

“SVG is a special driver,” Rice added. “He has more talent than we’ve seen in a long time come from anywhere else. He’s going to do very well, but when you get to the Cup side, it’s way harder than showing up in Xfinity.

“He has so much car control, it’s unbelievable.”

On the news front, Stewart-Haas Racing’s Josh Berry will leave the No. 4 Ford and climb in to the legendary No. 21 one of the Wood Brothers in 2025, replacing second-year driver Harrison Burton.

Berry becomes the second SHR driver to find a ride for next season, joining Chase Briscoe, who will replace the retiring Martin Truex Jr. in the No. 19 for Joe Gibbs Racing.

Noah Gragson and Ryan Preece are the two remaining SHR drivers who do not have a ride for next season, while Cole Custer appears to be the frontrunner to drive the new Haas Factory Team entry in 2025.

–Field Level Media



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