Shane van Gisbergen made his Cup Series debut in thrilling fashion, winning the historic race despite unexpected weather challenges and delays -- and it all culminated in a celebration Chicago's Columbus Drive had never seen before.
Van Gisbergen won the highly anticipated race on Sunday capping off an incredible debut performance and making history while doing it.
His winning show included burnouts and doughnuts that covered the track in smoke as fans and his crew cheered him on. (See it all unfold in the video player above)
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The 34-year-old, driving in a Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, will take home the biggest share of the $7,565,807 in prize money that will be allocated throughout the 37-driver field. He also earned a minimum of 40 points for the win as the playoff push for all drivers continues.
“The racing, the battles were really fun,” van Gisbergen said. “But everyone was respectful and clean. It was really cool.”
The race was unique in many ways.
After 47 laps, NASCAR notified all teams the race was being shortened from 100 laps to 75. At that point, Christopher Bell led the way with Tyler Reddick and Ty Gibbs lurking in second and third place, respectively.
But Bell, who won Stages 1 and 2, eventually spun and fell out of the top spot, prompting Justin Haley to take over. Haley led all the way with six laps to go until van Gisbergen made a special move to overtake Haley for first place, and the New Zealander closed it out a few laps into overtime.
Haley finished in second, while Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson and Kyle Busch rounded out the top five, in that order.
Bell ended up dropping to 18th while Reddick, who competed up top with Bell during a long portion of the early stages, plummeted even further to 28th after crashing into a tire barrier and getting stuck underneath.
Van Gisbergen, a New Zealand native, became the first driver to win his Cup Series debut since Johnny Rutherford in the second qualifying race at Daytona in 1963.
He became the sixth driver born outside the United States to win a NASCAR Cup Series race, joining Marcos Ambrose, Mario Andretti, Juan Pablo Montoya, Earl Ross and Daniel Suárez.
Part of Triple Eight Race Engineering, an Australian motor racing team, van Gisbergen came into the race having won three Supercars championships in 2016, 2021 and 2022. Trackhouse Racing, though, was van Gisbergen's team for this Cup Series race.
The Auckland, New Zealand native has competed in 499 Supercars Championship races, logging 80 wins, 174 podiums, 46 pole positions and recently finished first in the 2022 campaign with 3,523 points.
Next up in the Cup Series is the Quaker State 400 presented by Walmart on Sunday, July 9. The race will be held at the Atlanta Motor Speedway in Georgia.