Shane van Gisbergen Grabs First NASCAR Xfinity Series Win in Portland – Motorsports Tribune

Shane van Gisbergen Grabs First NASCAR Xfinity Series Win in Portland – Motorsports Tribune

By Holly Cain, NASCAR Wire Service

New Zealander Shane van Gisbergen claimed his first NASCAR Xfinity Series victory in Saturday’s Pacific Office Automation 147 at Portland International Raceway.

The popular Kiwi celebrated the hard-earned win with a burnout all the way around the 1.967-mile road course and then climbing out of his Chevy and topping it off by kicking a soccer ball into the thrilled crowd.

It was a popular win all-around for the 35-year-old three-time Australian Supercar champion, but he had to work for it.

The series rookie – who won the inaugural Chicago Street Race in his first NASCAR Cup Series start last summer – led laps early in the No. 97 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet but struggled with race re-starts for much of the day. He lost positions on the early restarts and even had to overcome a couple miscues – dropping his tires off track into the dirt – before steadily and masterfully working his way forward in the closing laps to challenge for the win.

He passed the day’s most dominant driver, JR Motorsports’ Justin Allgaier on the final restart with four laps to go and pulled away to a .941-second victory over the series veteran, who led a race best 46 of the race’s 75 laps.

JR Motorsports’ Sam Mayer, van Gisbergen’s Kaulig teammate A.J. Allmendinger – who started last in the field – and Sam Hunt Racing’s Ed Jones – an IMSA sportscar and IndyCar veteran – rounded out the Top-5.

“What a day, really cool, had some great racing,’’ said van Gisbergen, who immediately apologized to pole-winner Sam Mayer who he collided with and spun on the opening turn of the race. 

“I need to get better on my restarts and learn how to position, but that was so much fun. Really cool racing. I love these cars, they’re great.’’

It was a particularly crushing runner-up showing for Allgaier, who finished second in this race last year as well. At various points, his No. 7 Chevrolet held a nearly three-second advantage on the field, but two cautions in the final 12 laps essentially equalized the competition and van Gisbergen steadily made his way forward on the restarts before taking the lead in Turn 5 with four laps to go.

Allgaier not only led the most laps but swept both stage wins for the third consecutive race – the six consecutive stage wins a series record. His series-leading 10 stage victories on the season are the most ever through the opening 13 races.

But it just wasn’t…

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