Shane van Gisbergen claims maiden NASCAR Xfinity win in Portland

Shane van Gisbergen claims maiden NASCAR Xfinity win in Portland

Shane van Gisbergen claimed his first-career NASCAR Xfinity Series win in Saturday’s Pacific Office Automation 147 at Portland International Raceway.

New Zealander Shane van Gisbergen clinched his hard-earned first NASCAR Xfinity Series victory 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 signed ball into the thrilled crowd.

The popular Kiwi grabbed the lead coming out of a late caution and held on on the lead after earning the No. 2 position in the starting grid of Saturday’s starting lineup in Portland.

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 restarts for much of the day.

Van Gisbergen 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.

“What a day, really cool, had some great racing,” said van Gisbergen, who immediately apologized to pole-winner 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.”

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 0.941s victory over the series veteran, who led a race best 46 of the race’s 75 laps.

“I don’t know what I could have done differently,” a discouraged Allgaier said. “On those restarts we were so free taking off and the car was just struggling to get grip.

“I think that’s the hardest part, once he got by me there, I probably overdrove it trying to get back to him and probably didn’t help my cause. Really proud of this team.

“All the effort this team puts forward is incredible. To come in second two years in a row stings a little bit but at the same time, really proud of everybody.”

Allgaier’s JR Motorsports teammate Sammy Smith finished third. A.J. Allmendinger was fourth after starting the race in the back in a backup car because of a crash in qualifying. Ed Jones finished fifth.

Van Gisbergen took his race-winning lead from Allgaier on a lap-72 restart that followed a lap-67 caution for a blown engine for Chandler Smith and an incident that collected Blaine Perkins, Brandon Jones, Ryan Ellis and Brennan Poole.

Sheldon Creed took the lead from Allgaier on a lap-56 restart, but Allgaier retook the position two laps later. After a caution for Hailie Deegan with 13 laps to go, van Gisbergen was second to Allgaier for the restart. Van Gisbergen spun his tires on the restart, and Creed was assessed a restart penalty for getting out of line.

Van Gisbergen was back in second to Allgaier for the final restart as Allgaier won the first 25-lap stage. He inherited the lead when van Gisbergen gave up the position to pit late in the stage.

Allgaier’s JRM teammate Sam Mayer started on the pole but spun from contact with van Gisbergen on lap one. Riley Herbst, then, took the lead.

“Firstly, um, I’m very sorry to Sam Mayer and the No. 1 team for the first corner,” van Gisbergen said. “I just mucked up, there, and just clipped him, so very sorry.”

Herbst, who lost the lead to van Gisbergen on lap 16, was second at the end of the stage. Van Gisbergen was back in the lead when everyone else pitted under caution after stage one.

Allgaier completed a stage sweep with a stage-two win on lap 50. He took the lead from van Gisbergen on a lap-29 restart and ran up front the rest of the second stage.

After losing the lead to Allgaier, van Gisbergen fell outside the top-five. Contact left van Gisbergen with a tire rub. He also ran off-course at one point. Creed was second at the end of stage two after closing on Allgaier late in the stage. Van Gisbergen was fifth at the end of the second stage.

Stage two ended under caution, because Matt DiBenedetto stalled his car on the final lap of the stage.

Last year’s Portland winner Cole Custer finished sixth in the Stewart-Haas Racing Ford with Kaulig’s Josh Williams, Big Machine Racing’s Parker Kligerman, Jordan Anderson Racing’s Parker Retzlaff and Stewart-Haas Racing’s Riley Herbst rounding out the top 10.

With his sixth-place finish Saturday, Custer takes the championship lead by 18-points over Richard Childress Racing’s Austin Hill and Joe Gibbs Racing’s Chandler Smith. Hill – who was fined 25 points and $25,000 for purposefully wrecking Custer last week at Charlotte – finished 11th and Smith, whose No. 81 JGR Toyota suffered a late race engine problem, finished 35th.

The series stays on the West Coast with the Zip Buy Now, Pay Later 250 on the Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway road course next Saturday (8 p.m. ET, FS1, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

NASCAR Xfinity Series Race Results – Portland International Raceway

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