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  Debate

Debate

Is Kyle Larson unbeatable, or can Shane van Gisbergen pull off a surprise in the Cup race?

It was a Kiwi showdown at the Chicago Street Course once again. Clinching his third NASCAR Xfinity win, Shane van Gisbergen ran spectacularly. Starting from the lead, SVG dominated the last cluster of laps. However, he had a formidable thorn in his side. A feisty battle played out between NASCAR’s greatest racer and the best road course racer. Although Shane van Gisbergen played it smoothly and prevailed in the end, a giant challenge awaits him tomorrow. And the Kiwi speedster is cautious about his rival.

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Kyle Larson is arguably one of the biggest NASCAR Cup Series names at the moment. As if attempting the double was not enough, the Hendrick Motorsports driver owns three Cup wins this season. Recently, he grabbed the pole with a lap of 90.168 mph around the 12-turn, 2.2-mile Chicago Street Course. Kaulig Racing driver Shane van Gisbergen trailed behind in fifth place with a lap speed of 89.813 mph.

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Hence, the Kiwi speedster needs to arm himself against Larson’s strength even after winning The Loop 110. The press revealed in a post-race media meet that Kyle Larson believed Shane van Gisbergen was “toying” with him. The Californian and the New Zealander traded paint door-to-door right from the start, as SVG finally conquered the lead.

Yet Shane van Gisbergen admitted to a series of faults. “I would want to be out in front the whole time. But as I said at the start, first laps, I could not get going, you know. The brakes I couldn’t get in and the front tires.”

 

 

SVG slipped his apprehensions about Kyle Larson into every corner of the Chicago Street Race. “Then after one lap, the grip would be equal and my car would be good. And I’d see him start to slide around. So yeah, every restart I was just weak and probably a bit over-cautious as well. But yeah, our cars were very different in the way they drove.”

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Last year, Kyle Larson finished three spots away at fourth as Shane van Gisbergen tasted his debut Cup victory. Hence, the 2024 Chicago Street Race is drumming up enormous anticipation as the defending race winner will lock horns with the 2021 NASCAR champion. Yet both drivers tipped their hats to each other out of respect.

Larson enjoyed battling his rival

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When two legends meet, it is bound to be an exhilarating encounter. The Chicago Xfinity race demonstrated exactly that. 26-time Cup winner Kyle Larson and three-time Australian Supercars champ Shane van Gisbergen fought it out for the lead. But both garnered immense mutual respect in the healthy battle. SVG said he “learned a lot” from his rival, and the latter harbored similar feelings as well.

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Larson showered appreciation for SVG’s racing style, conceding how much he enjoyed racing him. “I was having a blast. Obviously, I wanted to win today but I wanted to learn more than anything. I wanted to get to battle with him because he’s just really good at creating shapes and angles and passing. That was an objective of mine and the first opportunity I got, I wanted to get racing because I just didn’t know if I’d have another opportunity to race with him. My car seemed to be a little better than his for a lap or two which helped me get by him and was able to protect and stuff but he was so much better than me.” 

So we have a lump in our throats until Grant Park 165 begins tomorrow, to see if Shane van Gisbergen can defend his prestigious title.