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New Zealander Shane van Gisbergen wins Portland road race for first NASCAR Xfinity Series victory

By ANNE M. PETERSON / Associated Press
Published: June 1, 2024, 7:26pm

Shane van Gisbergen grabbed the lead coming out of a late caution and held on on the road course just north of downtown Portland on Saturday for his first NASCAR Xfinity Series victory.

From New Zealand, the 35-year-old van Gisbergen won the NASCAR Cup Series race last year in Chicago on a downtown road course.

Justin Allgaier, who led the first two stages Saturday, finished 0.941 seconds behind Van Gisbergen’s No. 97 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet.

“What a day. It was really cool, had some great racing,” van Gisbergen said. “I need to get better on my restarts and learn how to position. But I still had fun. Really, really cool racing. I love these cars. They’re great.”

There was a multi-car crash on coming out of the 12th turn with eight laps to go, bringing out the fourth caution of the race. Brandon Jones smashed into the barrier, but emerged from the car unscathed.

Van Gisbergan overtook Allgaier on the restart.

“Once he got behind me there, I probably over-drove it, trying to get back to him and probably didn’t help my cause,” Allgaier said.

The 75-lap race on the 12-turn, 1.97-mile course was run under cloudy conditions with the temperature hovering around 70. It was the third year of the event, a rare standalone Xfinity Series race and the only NASCAR event in the Pacific Northwest.

Sam Mayer had the pole in the JR Motorsports Ford with a fast lap of 96.645 mph in qualifying earlier in the day. Van Gisbergen started second.

Mayer spun on the first turn after contact with van Gisbergen, allowing Riley Herbst in the Stewart-Haas Racing Ford to move into the lead.

Allgaier won the first and second stages in the No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet, giving him 63 career stage wins. It was Allgaier’s fourth top-five finish of the season.

A.J. Allmendinger, who the inaugural Portland race in 2022, crashed during qualifying and had to use a backup car. He finished fourth.

A three-time winner of the Supercars Championship with 81 career victories, van Gisbergen earned a spot in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs with the Portland win.

“It’s been a pretty special nine or 10 months since we started to do this. Pretty stoked to be now in the playoffs, back in victory lane again,” he said.

The series moves to the road course at Sonoma next weekend.