Shane van Ginsbergen Jul 2, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Shane Van Gisbergen (91) reacts after winning the Grant Park 220 of the Chicago Street Race at Chicago Street Race. Mandatory Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

If you don’t know who Shane van Gisbergen is, you will now.

The New Zealander is a three-time Supercars champion (including the defending back-to-back champ) and took charge of the Trackhouse Racing “Project 91” car on the streets of Chicago. Van Gisbergen had a great car and impressed in qualifying, but even an accomplished road racer can find it difficult to perform well as he’s learning the car.

Van Gisbergen was obviously a quick learner, because the Kiwi roared through the field to win the first ever race on the Chicago Street Circuit.

Van Gisbergen achieved three monumental NASCAR feats:

  • The sixth foreign born NASCAR Cup Series winner, and first Kiwi winner. (Mario Andretti, Italy; Earl Ross, Canada; Juan Pablo Montoya, Colombia; Marcos Ambrose, Australia; Daniel Suárez, Mexico)
  • The seventh person to win in their first NASCAR Cup Series start, and first in 60 years. (Jim Roper and Jack White, 1949; Harold Kite and Leon Sales, 1950; Marvin Burke, 1951; Johnny Rutherford, 1963)
  • The first road course “ringer” to win a NASCAR Cup Series race since Mark Donohue in 1973.

Many in the racing world, from inside and outside of NASCAR, celebrated van Gisbergen’s win.


On a day where historic flooding submerged much of the track, NASCAR got the Cup race in with a shortened distance. Things looked so dire Sunday morning when four inches of rain fell that NASCAR felt they had no choice but to cancel the Xfinity Series race two laps before the official distance. Add that all the concerts throughout the weekend were canceled and it wasn’t looking great for street racing in NASCAR

Not only did NASCAR get the Cup race in, a new winner took the checkered flag at a time where his New Zealand and Australian fans could watch at 1:00 pm local time. Shane van Gisbergen winning meant all the headaches of the flooding and rain were quickly forgotten and he may have saved the concept of street racing in NASCAR.

About Phillip Bupp

Producer/editor of the Awful Announcing Podcast and Short and to the Point. News editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. Highlight consultant for Major League Soccer as well as a freelance writer for hire. Opinions are my own but feel free to agree with them.

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