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In a memorable conclusion to the NASCAR Cup Series' first street race, Shane van Gisbergen triumphs in his debut.

Shane van Gisbergen wins NASCAR Cup Series debut in Chicago street race.

Shane van Gisbergen's interest in the NASCAR Cup Series was reignited when he received a call from Justin Marks. Intrigued, he began studying the races, drivers, and cars. It turns out that van Gisbergen is a diligent student, as he emerged victorious in his Cup Series debut on a rainy Sunday in downtown Chicago. In a thrilling finish to the series' first street race, van Gisbergen chased down Justin Haley and Chase Elliott.

After passing Elliott, van Gisbergen engaged in a fierce battle with Haley in the final laps. Ultimately, the three-time Supercars champion moved ahead and secured the win. Haley finished in second place, with Elliott in third. Reflecting on the race, van Gisbergen expressed his enjoyment of the intense battles, noting the respectful and clean racing that took place.

Van Gisbergen, a 34-year-old native of New Zealand, made history by becoming the first driver to win his Cup Series debut since Johnny Rutherford in 1963. He had the opportunity to drive the No. 91 Chevrolet in Chicago as part of Trackhouse Racing's Project 91. Owned by Marks, Trackhouse Racing aims to provide international drivers with a chance to compete in NASCAR.

The idea for Project 91 was born from Marks' passion for various forms of motorsports and his desire to bring global motorsport to NASCAR. Van Gisbergen's lead on Lap 25 marked the first time Project 91 had led a lap in three starts. He now joins the ranks of Marcos Ambrose, Mario Andretti, Juan Pablo Montoya, Earl Ross, and Daniel Suárez as the sixth driver born outside the United States to win a NASCAR Cup Series race.

In addition to his success in Supercars, where he won his first championship in 2016 and two more in the following years, van Gisbergen received support from Darian Grubb during his NASCAR debut. Grubb, who served as crew chief for Tony Stewart's 2011 Cup Series championship, played a significant role in van Gisbergen's achievement. Trackhouse Racing's recent victory with Ross Chastain at Nashville Superspeedway further adds to the team's success.

Other notable finishes in the Chicago race include Kyle Larson in fourth place, followed by Kyle Busch and Austin Cindric. Christopher Bell, who won both stages and led the most laps, unfortunately faded to 18th place. The race, originally scheduled for 100 laps and 220 miles, was shortened due to fading sunlight and a historic rainfall that caused flooding on the course.

Before the race began, pole-sitter Denny Hamlin and Noah Gragson took to social media to express concerns about the rain, with Gragson even sharing a video of one of his tires floating on pit road. NASCAR ultimately allowed the drivers to return to their haulers until the track was ready for racing. Although the weather eventually cleared up, there were still puddles on the course, creating challenges for the drivers.

Water splashed everywhere as drivers slid into tire barriers, adding an extra dynamic to the race. Several drivers, including Gragson, Busch, Joey Logano, Hamlin, and Elliott, encountered the tire barriers at various turns. A massive pileup involving 14 cars occurred on the 50th lap, causing congestion on East Jackson Drive from Michigan Avenue.

Despite the challenging conditions, the race was deemed a first-class event by the drivers. Haley expressed his enjoyment and hoped for a return in the future. It was a memorable day for van Gisbergen, who proved his talent and potential in the NASCAR Cup Series. The victory marked a significant milestone in his racing career and showcased the success of Trackhouse Racing's Project 91.

In conclusion, Shane van Gisbergen's debut in the NASCAR Cup Series was nothing short of remarkable. His dedication to studying the sport paid off as he emerged victorious in a thrilling street race in Chicago. Van Gisbergen's achievement highlights the potential of international drivers in NASCAR, thanks to initiatives like Trackhouse Racing's Project 91. Despite the challenging weather conditions, the race provided excitement and entertainment for both drivers and fans. Van Gisbergen's win solidifies his place in NASCAR history and sets the stage for future success in the Cup Series.

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