Shane Van Gisbergen, a three-time Supercars champion, has come to the United States to compete in the inaugural NASCAR Cup Series event on the Streets of Chicago. However, he’s not here to just run the race, he’s got a shot to win it.
The 34-year-old driver, piloting a third entry for Trackhouse Racing, paced Saturday’s NASCAR Cup Series practice session in surprising fashion, putting on an eye-opening performance in his first laps on the track.
Van Gisbergen posted a quick time of 89.419 seconds (88.572mph) to lead the session by more than three-tenths of a second over Denny Hamlin, who ranked second-quickest among the 37 drivers that took time in the session.
Jenson Button, making his second of three scheduled starts for Rick Ware Racing this season, placed the No. 15 Ford Mustang third place on the timing sheets, while Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Martin Truex, Jr. and Christopher Bell ranked fourth and fifth.
Kyle Larson was sixth-quickest, but three-quarters of a second slower than the leader of the session. Corey LaJoie put down a surprising lap good enough for seventh, while Tyler Reddick, Ty Gibbs, and Brad Keselowski rounded out the top-10.
Surprisingly, the 50-minute practice session for the NASCAR Cup Series was more incident-filled than the NASCAR Xfinity Series, as several drivers had issues throughout the session.
William Byron, who ended up 14th in the session, hit the wall at the exit of the fourth corner early in the session and broke a toe link. However, Hendrick Motorsports was able to quickly fix the issue.
Austin Cindric, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., and Justin Haley were among the drivers who had bigger incidents over the course of the session. Stenhouse, driving the No. 47, slammed the wall in turn eight, damaging the suspension of his JTG Daugherty Racing entry.
No word on if any of those drivers will have to go to a backup car, but Stenhouse will not be able to post a time in Saturday’s group qualifying session.
Practice Results – Grant Park 220: