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Shane van Gisbergen dominates at Chicago for third Xfinity career victory

Rookie Shane van Gisbergen left very little room to doubt his road-course expertise Saturday afternoon as he repeated the success that launched him to NASCAR stardom on the streets of Downtown Chicago a year ago, after winning the second annual The Loop 110 at the Chicago Street Course on Saturday, July 6. It was his third NASCAR Xfinity Series victory of the 2024 season and his career.

The three-time Supercars champion from Auckland, New Zealand, led a race-high 14 of 50 scheduled laps after starting on the pole position and withstanding a series of on-track challenges from Kyle Larson to claim the first stage victory.

Despite losing the lead to Larson at the start of the second stage period before getting shuffled before the following restart period on Lap 25 amid pit strategy, van Gisbergen methodically carved his way back to the front. He then capitalized during a three-lap shootout to overtake rookie Jesse Love and return atop the leaderboard. Once in the lead, he muscled away from runner-up Ty Gibbs to score the third Xfinity career victory in his rookie campaign.

With on-track qualifying that determined the starting lineup, rookie van Gisbergen scored his second career Xfinity pole position after posting a pole-winning lap of 88.543 mph in 89.448 seconds. Joining him on the front row was Kyle Larson, who clocked in the second-fastest qualifying lap at 88.530 mph in 89.461 seconds.

Before the event, Justin Allgaier and Sage Karam dropped to the rear of the field in backup cars. The following drivers, including Sheldon Creed, John Hunter Nemechek, Kyle Sieg and Parker Kligerman also dropped to the rear of the field due to engine changes made to their entries. Daniel Suarez and Ryan Sieg also started at the rear of the field due to unapproved adjustments made to their respective entries.

When the green flag waved and the race started, van Gisbergen rocketed ahead of Kyle Larson through the frontstretch and entering the first turn to lead. Larson then tried to make a move beneath van Gisbergen entering Turn 2 and he managed to pull even with van Gisbergen through Turns 3 to 5, just past DuSable Lake Shore Drive, before he muscled ahead with the top spot entering South Columbus Drive.

After trailing Larson through the drive, van Gisbergen pulled his No. 97 WeatherTech Chevrolet Camaro back even and reassumed the lead from Larson in Turn 6 while Ty Gibbs tried to challenge Larson for the runner-up spot. With Larson fending off Gibbs and Connor Mosack through the following six turns, van Gisbergen managed to pull away and lead the first lap.

After van Gisbergen led the second lap, Larson made an aggressive move beneath the former while almost forcing him towards the wall entering the first turn to snatch the lead. Van Gisbergen fought back through the following five turns amid a side-by-side battle, but Larson withstood the advantageous lane and retained the lead through South Columbus Drive. Despite van Gisbergen intimidating him through a series of tight turns between South Michigan Avenue and the East Congress Plaza Drive, Larson led the third lap and would continue to fend off van Gisbergen through the fifth lap mark.

Just past the fifth lap mark, van Gisbergen returned the favor as he overtook Larson entering the first turn before fending him off to retain the top spot prior to Turn 2. With van Gisbergen leading and stretching his advantage by more than a second over Larson by the seventh lap, Matt DiBenedetto was trying to rally from spinning in Turn 4 while Chandler Smith retired due to an engine issue in his No. 81 Smith General Contracting Toyota Supra.

With the event’s first caution period flying on the seventh lap due to debris spotted on the course, some of the drivers, including Josh Williams, Daniel Suarez, Jeremy Clements and Andre Castro pitted, while the rest, led by van Gisbergen remained on the track.

The start of the restart period on Lap 10 featured a tight side-by-side battle for the lead between Larson and van Gisbergen as Larson tried to make a move beneath van Gisbergen entering the first turn. Van Gisbergen, however, fended off Larson entering Turn 2 to retain the top spot momentarily before they both dueled for the lead through the following three turns and South Columbus Drive. Larson muscled ahead in Turn 6 as Gibbs, Mosack and Cole Custer trailed in the top five. With the race remaining under green flag conditions despite Josh Bilicki spinning in Turn 11 and Clements nursing a damaged No. 51 Impel Union Chevrolet Camaro to his pit stall, Larson continued to lead ahead of van Gisbergen and Gibbs.

Shortly after, notables, including Justin Allgaier, Riley Herbst and Sheldon Creed ran into issues, with Allgaier pitting under green and spinning while trying to enter pit road amid contact with Ryan Sieg while Herbst ran Creed into the Turn 2 wall as both made contact before Herbst spun his No. 98 Monster Energy Ford Mustang in the following turn. Amid the on-track chaos, Larson was leading by a slim margin over a hard-charging van Gisbergen.

Then on the final lap of the first stage period, van Gisbergen, who spent the previous five laps trailing Larson through every turn, pulled even with Larson through South Columbus Drive and through Turn 6 before he muscled ahead through Turns 7 and 8. With the clean air to his advantage for four final turns, van Gisbergen proceeded to claim his second Xfinity stage victory of the 2024 season on Lap 15. Larson settled in second as they were followed by Gibbs, Mosack, Custer, AJ Allmendinger, rookie Jesse Love, Austin Hill, Sam Mayer and Parker Kligerman.

Under the stage break, some of the drivers, led by Gibbs, pitted while the rest, led by van Gisbergen and Larson, remained on the track. Amid the pit stops, Custer was penalized for passing and bumping Gibbs’ No. 19 He Gets Us Toyota Supra on pit road and before entering his pit stall

The second stage period started on Lap 18 as van Gisbergen and Larson occupied the front row. At the start, van Gisbergen and Larson dueled for the lead through the frontstretch until Larson muscled his No. 17 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro clear with the lead entering Turn 2. As the field behind jostled for spots, Larson also stretched his advantage over van Gisbergen and Allmendinger through the next 10 series of turns as he would lead the ensuing lap.

Then on Lap 20, van Gisbergen launched another side-by-side attack on Larson for the lead through the frontstretch and just past the first turn, but Larson would fend him off in Turn 2. With van Gisbergen attempting another side-by-side battle through South Columbus Drive, Allmendinger tried to close in from third place while Mosack and Austin Green trailed in the top five. Despite van Gisbergen’s challenges through every turn and straightaway within Chicago’s avenues, Larson was not to be denied as he continued to lead.

Then on Lap 22, the caution returned when Allmendinger, who was running in third place, wheel-hopped entering Turn 6 just exiting S. Columbus Drive, slid sideways and pounded the tire barriers, which damaged the rear and right side of the No. 16 Celsius Chevrolet Camaro as Allmendinger limped his car to his pit stall. At the time of caution, Larson had fended off van Gisbergen to retain the lead while Mosack, Sammy Smith and Hill trailed in the top five.

During the caution period, which surpassed the event’s halfway mark, some led by Larson, van Gisbergen and Mosack pitted while the rest led by Sammy Smith remained on the track.

With the race restarting with five laps remaining in the second stage period, Hill overtook Sammy Smith through the frontstretch to assume the lead in his No. 21 Dow Coatings Chevrolet Camaro entering the first turn. He proceeded to lead during the following four turns while Sammy Smith, Love, Allgaier and Mayer followed suit in the top five.

With Larson and van Gisbergen mired outside the top 15 due to the mixed pit strategies, Hill retained the lead for the following lap. Larson would then return to the top-10 mark by the following lap while van Gisbergen was mired in 12th behind Joey Logano while Hill maintained the advantage by a second over Sammy Smith and teammate Love.

When the second stage period concluded on Lap 30, Hill captured his third Xfinity stage victory of the 2024 season. Sammy Smith followed suit in second along with Love, Allgaier and Creed while Gibbs, Kligerman, Mayer, Nemechek and van Gisbergen scored in the top 10 as Larson ended up in 11th place. During the stage’s conclusion, Custer, who was running in 14th place, spun his No. 00 Andy’s Frozen Custard Ford Mustang in Turn 12 and plummeted to 26th place.

During the stage break, select drivers, including Sammy Smith, Allgaier, Parker Retzlaff, Jeb Burton, Josh Bilicki, Andre Castro, Custer and DiBenedetto pitted while the rest, led by Hill, remained on the track.

With 16 laps remaining, the final stage commenced as teammates Hill and Love occupied the front row. At the start, the field fanned out entering Turn 1 as Love assumed the lead in his No. 2 WAT Chevrolet Camaro. He would fend off teammate Hill and Gibbs entering Turn 2 and navigating through Turns 3 to 5 before he made his way onto South Columbus Drive. Behind, Gibbs moved up to second over Hill while Creed and Mayer were in the top five ahead of van Gisbergen and Kligerman. Meanwhile, Larson was mired in ninth behind Mosack while Nemechek, Logano, Herbst, Brandon Jones, Green and Brennan Poole were in the top 15.

Another lap later, the caution quickly returned due to on-track calamity that struck in Turn 12 when Sage Karam ran into the rear of Josh Bilicki, who also made contact with Kyle Sieg as Andre Castro and Parker Retzlaff, whose hood came flying up, were all involved.

The start of the next restart period with 11 laps remaining did not last long due to Preston Pardus stalling his car in the middle of Turn 11. Prior to the caution period, Brandon Jones spun in Turn 2 after Allmendinger collided with Leland Honeyman, who then collided and sent Jones’ No. 9 Menards Chevrolet Camaro spinning in a cloud of smoke. Amid the chaos, Love had retained the lead over Gibbs and teammate, Hill. Meanwhile, van Gisbergen was up to fifth place behind Creed while Larson was still mired in ninth place behind Mosack.

Down to the final eight laps of the event, the event restarted under green. At the start, Love mirrored his start from the previous restart period to retain the lead while Gibbs navigated his way to second place. Creed and van Gisbergen would all overtake Hill through South Columbus Drive and prior to entering Turn 6 before van Gisbergen made a bold move beneath Creed to claim third place in Turn 11.

With van Gisbergen trying to fend off Mayer and Creed through the frontstretch, Gibbs then started to challenge Love for the lead during the following lap. He tried to bump and move Love out of the way in Turn 5, but Love maintained the lead through South Columbus Drive. The battle between Love and Gibbs, however, allowed van Gisbergen to close in on both entering Turn 6 as the top-five competitors on the track trailed the lead by under a second for the next six turns.

Amid the late battles, the caution returned due to Leland Honeyman locking up his front tires and slamming his No. 42 Klean Freak Chevrolet Camaro head-on into the tire barriers in Turn 1. Before Honeyman’s wreck, van Gisbergen made a bold save entering the frontstretch sliding sideways and making light contact with the wall in front of Mayer and Creed.

With the event restarting with three laps remaining, Creed muscled ahead to retain the lead while van Gisbergen bolted his way past Gibbs to move into second place. With Mayer spinning in Turn 1, the race remained under green flag conditions as van Gisbergen quickly closed in on Love’s rear bumper for the following four turns and through South Columbus Drive. Van Gisbergen then forced his way beneath Love to cycle back into the lead in Turn 7 as Gibbs capitalized on the battle to move into second entering Turn 8.

During the proceeding lap and with Creed spinning in Turn 12 amid contact with Kligerman while running in the top five, Larson navigated his way past Love and into third place through Turn 5. Meanwhile, van Gisbergen stretched his advantage to a comfortable advantage over Gibbs through South Columbus Drive and he would continue to do so entering Turn 6 and through East Balbo Drive, East Congress Plaza Drive, South Michigan Avenue and East Jackson Drive.

When the white flag waved and the final lap started, van Gisbergen remained as the leader by a second over Gibbs while Larson, Kligerman and Love trailed in the top five by under five seconds. With Gibbs unable to close the deficit for a final lap and through 12 sets of turns, van Gisbergen smoothly navigated his No. 97 WeatherTech Chevrolet Camaro through each turn before he made a hard right-hand turn to the frontstretch victorious for the third time of his career and of the 2024 season.

With the victory, van Gisbergen joined Terry Labonte and AJ Allmendinger as the only competitors to notch their first three career Xfinity Series victories on road-course events, with the New Zealander winning for the first time since Sonoma Raceway in June.

Van Gisbergen’s victory at Chicago also made him the first three-time Xfinity race winner of the 2024 season and the first competitor to win two NASCAR national touring series events on the streets of Chicago as he will attempt to sweep the weekend with Sunday’s Cup Series action at Chicago. Van Gisbergen won the inaugural Cup Series’ Chicago Street Race event in his premier series debut while driving for Trackhouse Racing.

While van Gisbergen’s victory marks the third win of the season for Kaulig Racing and the team’s No. 97 Chevrolet entry led by crew chief Bruce Schlicker, the win was the 11th of the season for the Chevrolet nameplate.

“That’s awesome! What a great race. It was pretty wild there at the end,” van Gisbergen, who kicked another rugby football into the frontstretch’s crowd, said on NBC. “I can’t thank [the] Kaulig Racing guys enough. [The] WeatherTech Camaro was amazing. Great race at the start with Kyle [Larson]. He was really good on the restarts and we made our car better for the second set of tires. That was fun at the end, passing all those guys. I had some great racing with everyone. [It was] Really cool. [I] Learnt a lot. [Larson] probably learned a lot off me, but hope to race him again for the win tomorrow [for the Cup Series event.

“It’s a privilege to race here [at Chicago],” van Gisbergen added. “This event is amazing. What NASCAR’s done here, what a show. Pretty cool feelings. Hopefully, we can repeat tomorrow.”

Ty Gibbs settled in second place for his first top-two result of the 2024 season, which occurred in his fifth start of the season, while Kyle Larson, who led 12 laps, ended up in third place for his second top-three result of the season and his first since winning at Circuit of the Americas in March. Parker Kligerman came home in fourth place while Jesse Love, who also led a race-high 14 laps with van Gisbergen, settled in fifth place for his fifth top-five result in his Xfinity rookie campaign.

Connor Mosack, Austin Hill, Joey Logano, Justin Allgaier and Austin Green completed the top 10 in the final running order.

There were nine lead changes for five different leaders. The race featured seven cautions for 16 laps. In addition, 27 of 38 starters finished on the lead lap.

Following the 18th event of the 2024 Xfinity Series season, Cole Custer leads the regular-season standings by 38 points over Justin Allgaier, 39 over Chandler Smith, 60 over Austin Hill and 109 over rookie Jesse Love.

Results.

1. Shane van Gisbergen, 14 laps led, Stage 1 winner

2. Ty Gibbs

3. Kyle Larson, 12 laps led

4. Parker Kligerman

5. Jesse Love, 14 laps led

6. Connor Mosack

7. Austin Hill, eight laps led, Stage 2 winner

8. Joey Logano

9. Justin Allgaier

10. Austin Green

11. AJ Allmendinger

12. Josh Williams

13. Sammy Smith, two laps led

14. Kyle Weatherman

15. Jeb Burton

16. Ryan Sieg

17. Brandon Jones

18. Cole Custer

19. Sam Mayer

20. Brennan Poole

21. Ryan Ellis

22. Kyle Sieg

23. Matt DiBenedetto

24. Blaine Perkins

25. John Hunter Nemechek

26. Sheldon Creed

27. Daniel Suarez

28. Riley Herbst – OUT, Overheating

29. Alex Labbe, five laps down

30. Anthony Alfredo, five laps down

31. Leland Honeyman – OUT, Accident

32. Preston Pardus – OUT, Electrical

33. Sage Karam – OUT, Accident

34. Parker Retzlaff – OUT, Accident

35. Andre Castro – OUT, Accident

36. Josh Bilicki – OUT, Accident

37. Jeremy Clements – OUT, Accident

38. Chandler Smith – OUT, Engine

Next on the 2024 NASCAR Xfinity Series schedule is Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania, for the Explore the Pocono Mountains 225. The event is scheduled to occur next Saturday, July 13, and air at 3 p.m. ET on USA Network.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com

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