XFT: Shane van Gisbergen gets second straight Xfinity win

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SONOMA, Calif. — New Zealander Shane van Gisbergen powered his way to the lead on a restart with 11 laps remaining in Saturday’s Zip Buy Now, Pay Later 250 on the Sonoma Raceway road course and bolted off to a 1.323-second victory for his second career NASCAR Xfinity Series win.

His first came last weekend in Portland.

The 35-year old — who earned his first career pole position earlier Saturday at the 1.99-mile course and led a race-best 32 laps — took the lead from Austin Hill negotiating a tight Turn 2 on a late-race restart, his No. 97 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet winning a battle of tough side-by-side action that ultimately cost Hill four positions.

Both drivers acknowledged the close racing — the second time this season they have had contact racing for the late race lead at a road course. At Circuit of The Americas, they collided racing for the win on an overtime restart only to see NASCAR Cup Series regular Kyle Larson bolt by them to claim the victory.

“Man, what a race — an adventure up and down and up and down all day,” said van Gisbergen, who, as he did in Portland, celebrated his win by signing a rugby ball and kicking it into the grandstands.

“But that last restart I was just giving it all I had and two guys going for the same real estate came together.

“It was pretty awesome though, a lot of fun. Hope everyone enjoyed the show. Pretty awesome back-to-back weeks for us.”

Hill, who led 21 laps and finished fifth in the No. 21 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, was clearly displeased with the contact with van Gisbergen but insisted on taking a sort of racing “high road.”

“I’m gonna leave it to the keyboard warriors on this one, I’ll let them figure out what happened,” Hill said as he watched the replay on the track’s video screen. “No matter what comment I say, it’ll be wrong.

“I plead the fifth, I’m not going to say anything about it,” he continued. “We’ll just go on to the next one, good hard racing. We were holding off SVG for a while, had that caution and I knew it was going to be tough on the restart and it didn’t work out. But we had a good points day and finished in the top five. You can’t ask for more than that.”

Joe Gibbs Racing’s Sheldon Creed finished runner-up to van Gisbergen, the ninth second-place finish for Creed in the series and his second of the 2024 season. He is still in search of his first career Xfinity win. JR Motorsports’ Sam Mayer was third with Jordan Anderson Racing rookie Austin Green fourth and Hill rounding out the top five.

It marked the second top-10 finish in three career starts for the 23-year-old Green, a recent college who was particularly impressive considering he started 22nd.

It was another young driver, former Xfinity Series champion in Ty Gibbs who looked to be among van Gisbergen’s toughest challengers early in the day. He led 26 laps but a slow second pit stop dropped him in the field for the Stage 2 restart and he was among 13 cars collected in an accident in Turn 2 on Lap 49 that eliminated several top cars.

The other NASCAR Cup Series regular in the field, John Hunter Nemechek, was eighth in a Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. JR Motorsports’ Justin Allgaier was sixth and JGR’s Chandler Smith seventh, followed by Nemechek, Stewart-Haas Racing’s Cole Custer and Big Machine Racing’s Parker Kligerman rounding out the top 10.

“It was the work we did between weeks to make the car better again,” said van Gisbergen, who also took the Stage 1 victory, his first career stage win.

“It was awesome racing Ty Gibbs at the start, we were really pushing each other. It’s special to win two road courses in a row and dream about one day winning on an oval.”

Custer’s eighth-place finish was good enough to keep a 12-point championship lead over both Hill and Smith.

The NASCAR Xfinity Series moves to Iowa Speedway for next Saturday’s HyVee Perks 250. Christopher Bell and Chase Briscoe each won a race at Iowa in the 2019 season — the last time the series visited the 0.875-mile track.

–Field Level Media

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