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Shane van Gisbergen wins on NASCAR debut

New Zealander Shane van Gisbergen became the first driver to win on NASCAR Cup debut in 60 years as greeted the chequered flag on the streets of Chicago.

Driving the Trackhouse Racing Project91 Chevrolet Camaro, an entry designed to promote NASCAR internationally by allowing drivers from other racing categories to race, van Gisbergen paced the field on Friday practice before qualifying third.

His victory was impressive as he climbed from 18th to the lead within the final two laps as an incident for Bubba Wallace and Ricky Stenhouse Jr forced the race into overtime, but van Gisbergen on fresher tyres built a comfortable margin to win.

This followed an entertaining battle between van Gisbergen and Justin Haley, who changed the lead multiple times before the three-time Supercars champion took it for good four laps from the finish.

Van Gisbergen held a frontrunning spot during the early stages of the race, but was shuffled back after his second pit stop and another caution, which followed a pile up.

Charging through the field together with Shane van Gisbergen during the final stint was Kyle Larson, however the latter was unable to keep the pace as the New Zealander caught Elliott and Haley with 10 laps to go.

Picking off Elliott on lap 68 at Turn 2, van Gisbergen’s attack continued as he pounced on Haley at Turn 7, but was forced to redress as a caution came out at the same time.

Swapping positions on the restart, van Gisbergen grew his advantage to 1.259s at the finish.

Performing spectacular burnouts on the front straight, van Gisbergen was excited to live out a dream as he came to grips with what he achieved.

“You always dream of it,” he said. “And thank you so much to the Trackhouse team, Enhance Health, Project 91, man. What an experience, and the crowd out here. Like this was so cool and that’s what you dream of, hopefully I can come and do more.

“When we had that bad, strategy back to 18th, I started to worry a bit, but. Had some full sends on some people and everyone was, the racing was really good. Everyone was respectful and it was tough, but a lot of fun.

“You know, the fans in Australia and New Zealand, the response this week and the coverage has been, I can’t explain it. The response and the support I’ve got from everyone and even over here, how welcoming everyone is, I can’t believe it. Dream come true.”

Van Gisbergen also hinted at a future in NASCAR for 2025.

“I’m doing one more year in Oz and then I’d love to come over here,” van Gisbergen told NBC.

The NTI Townsville 500 is on this weekend as part of the Repco Supercars Championship where van Gisbergen returns to his Red Bull Ampol Racing Chevrolet Camaro ZL1.