Friday, June 9, 2023

Australian V8 Supercars Champ, Shane Van Gisbergen Captures Win on Monday Night Racing at Michigan

Shane Van Gisbergen
Shane Van Gisbergen, the two-time Australian V8 Supercars Champion, took home the virtual win in the Monday Night Racing Rowdy Pro Series event at Michigan International Speedway.

Starting next-to-last in the seventh race of Season 4 of the Monday Night Racing Rowdy Energy Pro Series in the 1987 NASCAR Cup Series cars at Michigan International Speedway, was no problem at all for Austrailian V8 Supercar champion Shane Van Gisbergen.

The pro driver was fast, and he utilized the perfect pit strategy on the final stop of the race to secure the win in the Big Green Egg 180, his first victory of the Monday Night Racing season.

“I was in a pretty good spot at the last yellow. I think I was in second, but I saw I only needed three liters to make it,” Gisbergen said of his thought process when he decided to take a gamble on saving enough fuel. “Three liters is pretty easy to save on a long run, so, I just cruised from the start and saved a bit extra in case the yellow came out, so I had enough fuel for the green-white things that you guys do.”

Van Gisbergen, 32, beat 2022 NASCAR Xfinity Series competitor Rajah Caruth to the checkered flag for the win, while motorsports journalist Justin Melillo came home in third.

Jason Keffer, a former NASCAR Heat Pro League driver, finished the race in fourth, while real-world NASCAR competitor Garrett Smithley rounded out the top-five finishers in the race.

While this is a solid top-five finishing order, the drivers who dominated at the front of the pack all race long, didn’t suffer great fates due to the way strategy fell through the course of the event.

The race began with James Bickford and David Schildhouse, last week’s winner, on the front row of the starting grid.

Bickford would lead the opening lap, but there was a wild battle for the lead over the first few laps. Schildhouse led lap two, and on lap three Anthony Alfredo held the lead briefly after a wild three-wide move for the top spot.

Ultimately, Schildhouse, who was seeking his third win of the season, would prevail in the battle and would hold the lead for a sustained period of time.

The first caution of the race came out on lap 7 as JD Motorsports’ Gabe Wood spun off the front bumper of real-world NASCAR racer Josh Bilicki. In the spin, Wood nearly went to the moon, as the rear end lifted off the ground.

Collin Fern, who has one win already in the Monday Night Racing season, nearly saw his race end after contact from DJ Cummings on lap 11. Somehow, Fern maintained control of his No. 86 machine and he soldiered on to an 11th-place finish.

On lap 13, the caution flag waved for the second time after two NASCAR drivers — Garrett Smithley and Rajah Caruth tangled coming off of turn 4. Caruth was bump drafting Smithley, but the bump sent Smithley (third at the time) and Caruth (fourth at the time) spinning. Both drivers wouldn’t sustain much — if any — damage.

DJ Cummings was sent spinning from fourth-place coming off of turn 4 on lap 18. The driver of the No. 10 machine, who went around after contact from Collin Fern, went spinning into Fern. Both drivers would pound the wall.

As the caution came out, Alfredo had worked his way back around Schildhouse for the race. lead.

On the ensuing restart, an epic battle for the lead sparked up between Alfredo, Schildhouse and NASCAR Xfinity Series competitor Will Rodgers. Schildhouse would get shuffled out while running on the inside of a three-wide battle for the lead on lap 23, and would fall to sixth-place just as Michael Massie went spinning on lap 24.

Massie would spin off the racing surface, which would keep the caution from flying.

On lap 26, James Bickford and Preston Pardus began pressuring Alfredo for the lead, but Alfredo would hang onto the top spot until Bickford got past on lap 34.

But that lead was short lived, as Alfredo would get back around a lap later.

The way the race was playing out was flipped on it’s head with 44 laps remaining in the 90-lap event, when ironically enough the No. 44 car driven by Caruth went around to bring out the caution, Smithley would also go around trying to avoid Caruth.

Before this yellow flag, roughly the top-10 to 15 runners in the field hit pit road for green flag pit stops, while current leader Van Gisbergen, Smithley, Caruth and others were on a different pit sequence, were able to trap some of the best cars in the field a lap down, or very deep in the running order.

While Alfredo, Schildhouse and others were mired back around eighth to 16th in the field, Gary sexton would take the lead from Van Gisbergen on the restart with 38 laps to go.

As Sexton continued to hold Collin Fern at bay for the lead, Anthony Alfredo gobbled up track position on newer tires. With 29-laps to go, Alfredo moved into second-place and he promptly filled the rearview mirror of Sexton.

Collin Fern made his second incredible save of the race with 16 laps to go after he was tapped by Brad Perez, running for seventh.

With 15 laps left, Sexton and Alfredo took their battle for the lead and win to pit road, but Alfredo would spin into the pit wall trying to get the car slowed down.

This would end Alfredo’s bid to win and Alfredo would come home in 10th. Meanwhile, Sexton was busted for speeding, which would also end his hopes for the race win. Sexton would drop to 28th, one lap off the pace due to his penalty.

DJ Cummings and Van Gisbergen would inherit the top-two spots and would utilize an ultimate fuel-saving strategy in an effort to steal the race win.

Cummings would break loose with five laps to go, but would gather the car up without a caution. However, Cummings tires were toast, and he would be forced to pit, which ended his chance at the win and he finished a disappointing 22nd.

This handed the lead to Van Gisbergen, who would not look back as he coasted on fumes to his first win of Season 4 in his first start of the season. This marks Van Gisbergen’s fifth-career Monday Night Racing Rowdy Pro Series Win, which puts him tied for second with Parker Kligerman on the all-time series wins list.

If you missed Monday’s race, and would like to watch the incredible broadcast from Podium eSports, here is the race in it’s entirety:

Here are the official results from Monday Night’s Big Green Egg 180:

13597Shane Van Gisbergen
21344Rajah Caruth-14.329 sec.
32053Justin Melillo-14.623 sec.
42533Jason Keffer-22.569 sec.
5452Garrett Smithley-28.168 sec.
6817Adam Cabot-28.729 sec.
71960Brad Perez-29.786 sec.
81825Stefan Wilson-30.407 sec.
9129James Bickford-31.104 sec.
1055Anthony Alfredo-32.886 sec.
111186Collin Fern-34.759 sec.
121553Josh Bilicki-37.921 sec.
13220David Schildhouse-38.307 sec.
14650Gabe Wood-39.129 sec.
151621Max Kennon-1:00.479 sec.
163127Michael Massie-1 lap
172363Boris Cook-1 lap
181407Ford Martin-1 lap
191219Robby Lyons-1 lap
203641Matt Stallknecht-1 lap
21712Brandon Brown-1 lap
22310DJ Cummings-1 lap
232777Devon Henry-1 lap
243284Kase Kallenbach-1 lap
252928Ron Capps-1 lap
263391Cole Irvin-1 lap
273057Seth Eggert-1 lap
28913Gary Sexton-1 lap
293493Garrett Miller-1 lap
302214Dillon Welch-1 lap
312446Steven Ellis-1 lap
32264Brett Baldeck-2 laps
331024Will Rodgers-2 laps
341742Preston Pardus-2 laps
352811Steve Auffant-4 laps
362126Chris Wilner-8 laps
Toby Christie
Toby Christie
Toby is the Founder, and Editor-in-Chief of Toby is also the co-host of The Final Lap Weekly Podcast. Additionally, he is a NMPA (National Motorsports Press Association) award-winning writer, and has followed the sport as a fan since 1993.

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