Sunday morning, you had to look back 60 years to Johnny Rutherford at Daytona in 1963 to find the most recent driver to win on their NASCAR debut. You had to go back 50 years, to Mark Donohue’s 1973 Riverside win, for the last victory by a NASCAR ringer. And on the day when NASCAR’s Cup Series raced on a street course for the first time, both of those clocks were reset after three-time Australian Supercars champion Shane van Gisbergen claimed the win on the streets of Chicago.

In a race that started late due to historic levels of rainfall flooding the track, was cut short by 25 laps due to fading light, and then forced into overtime by a late caution, the New Zealander nailed the final restart and kept the pursuing Justin Haley at bay to seal the win.

“You always dream about it,” he said after he climbed from Trackhouse Racing’s Project 91 Chevrolet. “What an experience. This was so cool. This is what you dream of. Hopefully I can come to do more. The racing was really good, everyone was respectful. It was tough, but really fun.”

Van Gisbergen had been among the lead pack for most of the first part of the race, but the big turning point came during a caution on lap 42 when a large group of cars that were running toward the back decided to gamble on the race ending early and made their stops.

They didn’t have to wait long for that gamble to pay off: on the very next caution a few laps later the series announced that the race would be cut 25 laps short, and all of the leaders found themselves buried in the pack after they made their own stops.

That strategy call vaulted Haley – who’d started last after a crash in practice sidelined him from qualifying – into first place with Chase Elliott leading the pursuit.

Van Gisbergen, meanwhile, was stuck in 17th, but he made good progress through the traffic and with 10 laps to go he was running fifth – and 0.5s per lap quicker than the cars ahead. On lap 67 he got around Elliott for third, but his pursuit of Haley was stunted by the eighth of the race’s nine cautions, triggered in this case by Martin Truex Jr finding the tires.

NASCAR mandated single-file restarts through the entire race due to the slippery conditions which meant the Kiwi couldn’t attack Haley immediately at the restart… so he waited until Turn 2 instead. He got the spot, and then had to defend an immediate counterattack from Haley before using the crossover to put the No. 31 Kaulig car into his mirrors at Turn 4. From there it was just a matter of not making any mistakes.

Haley held off a lurking Elliott for second, although the latter will be happy with third after struggling through Saturday and then a spin on cold tires after pitting to change from wets to slicks. Kyle Larson and Kyle Busch rounded out the top five. That represented a particularly good salvage job for Busch, who triggered the very first caution when he overshot Turn 6 and buried himself up to his windshield in the tire barrier.

To find the two drivers who dominated most of the afternoon, you need to look down to 18th and 28th. Christopher Bell got around Tyler Reddick to take the lead on lap nine and went on to lead a race-high 37 laps, winning Stage 1 and Stage 2 along the way. He was one of the early frontrunners who dropped back through the pitstop sequence, and was running 11th when he spun at Turn 1 and fell to 32nd.

Reddick, meanwhile, had also dropped back during the stops but was on a van Gisbergen-esque charge back through the field until he went into the tires at Turn 6 on lap 57.

Despite the potentially volatile mix of bad conditions, a tight, unforgiving track and a grid full of drivers unaccustomed to having walls on both sides of the car, the race was surprisingly low-attrition. The only retirement was Alex Bowman, whose No. 48 Hendrick Chevrolet stopped at Turn 5 with a mechanical problem, and while there were frequent interactions between cars and walls – Noah Gragson had a particular thing for Turn 6 – most hits did no damage other than to the driver in question’s track position.

Even the inevitable multi-car incident was relatively benign: William Byron spun on lap 48 and left a pack of cars behind him with nowhere to go. Corey LaJoie tapped Kevin Harvick into a spin while trying to avoid Byron, but for the most part everyone just parked up until the road was clear.

RESULTS