Photo: James Gilbert/Getty Images via NASCAR

Van Gisbergen Stays Perfect in Chicago, Banks Third Xfinity Win of 2024

By David Morgan, Associate Editor

CHICAGO – Just when the NASCAR Xfinity Series field thought it had Shane van Gisbergen covered, he showed them how it’s done, winning Saturday’s The Loop 121 on the Streets of Chicago.

With two road course wins already in 2024 and a Cup Series win on the Chicago street course last season in his back pocket, van Gisbergen came in as the overwhelming favorite and rightfully so.

Rolling off from the pole alongside Kyle Larson, it was a heavyweight fight for the New Zealander and Larson through the first half of the race as the two drivers raced each other hard, but respectful as they traded the lead back and forth.

When the caution flag flew for A.J. Allmendinger’s visit to the Turn 6 tire barrier on Lap 23, the two leaders took the right hand turn down onto pit road, dropping them back in the field for the ensuing restart, where van Gisbergen would be ranked outside the top-20.

They may have had Superman down, but he was far from out.

By the time the second stage ended on Lap 32, SVG had cracked the top-10 once more with his sights on reclaiming his place at the front of the field.

Lap after lap, he picked off his prey, climbing back into the top-five when the penultimate caution of the day flew on Lap 41.

On the ensuing restart, he surpassed Sam Mayer, then Austin Hill, then Sheldon Creed.

As he threatened to continue his surge to the front by eclipsing second-place Ty Gibbs and race leader Jesse Love, his car kicked sideways and sideswiped the wall outside the final turn with seven laps to go, causing him to lose valuable track position.

Now a second off the leaders, van Gisbergen would have some work to do to close the gap, but when the final caution flag flew the following lap, he had his second chance.

A three-lap dash to the finish was all that remained as Love and Gibbs would have to have the restart of their lives to hold off the hard-charging SVG. Ultimately, both drivers were sitting ducks.

It didn’t even take one corner for van Gisbergen to get past Gibbs, turning his attention to Love and the race lead.

Analyzing his opponent corner after corner, van Gisbergen made his race-winning move into Turn 7, diving low on Love in the right-hander to take the lead. With Gibbs pouncing on the now vulnerable Love as a result, he was powerless to respond, giving van Gisbergen the breathing room he needed to run out the rest of the race.

SVG would pull out to a lead of more than a second over Gibbs, crossing the line three laps later to bank his third win of the season to stay undefeated at Chicago and jump to the top of the board in the presumptive Xfinity Series Playoff standings.

Larson would follow SVG’s lead through the field to climb back to third by the time the checkered flag flew, with Parker Kligerman finishing the day in fourth and Love falling to fifth by the time all was said and done.

“What a great race there at the end. It was pretty wild,” van Gisbergen said after his trademark celebratory rugby punt into the stands. “Can’t thank the Kaulig Racing guys enough. Our WeatherTech Camaro was amazing. Great race at the start with Kyle. He was really good on the restarts. We made our car better with that second set of tires.

“That was fun at the end passing all of those guys, had some great racing with everyone.”

Both SVG and Larson noted afterwards that they were having fun racing each other so hard for the race win, but doing so respectfully.

In a show of respect, van Gisbergen even threw a thumbs up out of his car window at one point early in the race to give a nod to the racing between himself and Larson.

“It was cool. We were waving at each other, thumbs up,” van Gisbergen said of the battle between him and Larson. “Really respectful, but big moves. He was amazing under brakes and on the bumps. Really cool. Learned a lot. He probably learned a lot off me.

“Hope to race him for the win tomorrow.”

Larson said much of the same, explaining how much fun he had racing against Shane.

“I was having a blast. He was obviously way faster than me and I think he was just having fun playing with me.

“I wanted to use this race to learn and take the first opportunity I got to battle him. We were going to give each other space because it was early on, but you just never know when the race plays out if I’m going to have a chance to battle him and learn racecraft stuff. That was big on my agenda and I feel like I learned quite a bit battling him and creating different angles.

“I think today was a success. Obviously, you’d like to win, but our car just wasn’t quite as good as his.”

All three of the podium finishers will re-rack it and be back in action for the Cup Series race. Van Gisbergen will be attempting to defend his Chicago Street Race title from fifth-place on the grid, while Larson and Gibbs will roll off from the front row.

The Loop 121 NASCAR Xfinity Series at Chicago Results

1197Shane Van Gisbergen #WeatherTech Chevrolet50Running
2419Ty Gibbs(i)He Gets Us Toyota50Running
3217Kyle Larson(i) Chevrolet50Running
4748Parker KligermanSpiked Lite Tropical Coolers Chevrolet50Running
582Jesse Love #WAT Chevrolet50Running
6388Connor Mosack(i)Porter Pipe & Supply Chevrolet50Running
71321Austin HillDow Coatings Chevrolet50Running
81515Joey Logano(i)Klutch Vodka Ford50Running
9367Justin AllgaierBRANDT Chevrolet50Running
101932Austin Chevrolet50Running
111116AJ AllmendingerCelsius Chevrolet50Running
123011Josh WilliamsAlloy Employer Services Chevrolet50Running
13148Sammy SmithAllstate Peterbilt Group Chevrolet50Running
142891Kyle WeathermanBeard Guyz Chevrolet50Running
152327Jeb BurtonNORMA Ammunition/Grand Springs Chevrolet50Running
162239Ryan SiegSci Aps Ford50Running
17329Brandon JonesMenards/Fisher Nuts Chevrolet50Running
18100Cole CusterAndy’s Frozen Custard Ford50Running
1951Sam MayerPCI Pharma Services Chevrolet50Running
202544Brennan PooleToxic Waste Energy Drink Chevrolet50Running
212743Ryan EllisSnapchat Less Likes More Love Chevrolet50Running
223528Kyle SiegRSS Racing Ford50Running
232638Matt DiBenedettoRema Ford50Running
242929Blaine PerkinsCrocodile Cloth Ford50Running
25620John Hunter Nemechek(i)Jewel Osco Toyota50Running
263718Sheldon CreedFriends of Jaclyn Foundation Toyota50Running
273136Daniel Suarez(i)Van Der Hagen Chevrolet50Running
282098Riley HerbstMonster Energy Ford47Overheating
29167Alex LabbeFlood Brothers Chevrolet45Running
30185Anthony AlfredoDude Wipes Chevrolet45Running
312142Leland Honeyman #Klean Freak Chevrolet44Accident
321750Preston PardusChinchor Electric Inc. Chevrolet38Electrical
333826Sage KaramCOLTURE Sports Toyota37Accident
341231Parker RetzlaffFUNKAWAY Chevrolet36Accident
353314Andre CastroeRacing Association Chevrolet34Accident
362492Josh BilickiInsurance King Chevrolet34Accident
373451Jeremy ClementsImpel Union Chevrolet15Accident
38981Chandler SmithSmith General Contracting Toyota5Engine

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David Morgan is the Associate Editor for Motorsports Tribune. A 2008 graduate from the University of Mississippi, David has followed NASCAR since the early 90’s and became hooked at an early age after attending his first race at Talladega Superspeedway in 1993. He has traveled across the country since 2012 to cover some of the most prestigious events both IndyCar and NASCAR have to offer, with an aim to only expand on that in the near future.