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Is Shane Van Gisbergen the Next Big NASCAR Star?


(Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

By Peyton Lohr


Former three-time Australian V8 Supercar champion, Shane Van Gisbergen, has recently become the talk of the NASCAR world after winning the inaugural Chicago Street Course Cup Series race in 2023. Some thought he could just be the next big thing, while others saw through the burnout smoke and said it must be a one-off.


This wouldn't be the first time NASCAR has had a "transplant¨ come in and steal the show. Let's go back and look back at some of those examples, and maybe determine if SVG (as he is commonly known) has a spot in the history books with them. 


Let's go back to 1995, and talk about Tony Stewart, one of auto racing's most successful all-around drivers. He's the only one to have won both an IndyCar championship and a NASCAR championship. In 1995, he became the first driver to win USAC´s Triple Crown - meaning he won championships in all three of USAC´s major divisions (National Midget, Sprint, and Silver Crown).


In 1996, he started racing in IndyCar and in NASCAR's Busch (now known as Xfinity) series. A year later, Stewart captured the IndyCar championship and transitioned to the NASCAR Cup Series. He would go on to win three NASCAR Cup Series championships, in 2002, 2005, and in 2011. Stewart was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2020.


He also won the IROC Championship in 2006, and more recently, the SRX Championship in 2021. Currently, Stewart competes full-time in the NHRA as a Top Fuel competitor. 


(Photo By Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)


Next, let's go back to 1986, the year that Jeff Gordon began racing Sprint cars. He won three races that year, and was awarded a USAC license when he turned sixteen the next year. He and his family had to move from California to Indiana for him to continue racing, and there he became the youngest racer in the World of Outlaws. In 1989 he would be the USAC Midget Car Racing Rookie of the Year, and when he was only 20 years old he became the youngest driver to win the USAC Silver Crown Championship.


In 1991, Gordon started his NASCAR career, where he would go on to win four Cup Series Championships in 1995, 1997, 1998, and 2001, with 93 career wins. He was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2019. Currently, Gordon serves as the Vice Chairman at Hendrick Motorsports. 


(Photo by Dozier Mobley/Getty Images)


Lastly, let's look at Kyle Larson. Larson got his start in outlaw karts at the age of seven, and also moved to USAC as a teenager where he raced Midget, Sprint, and Silver Crown. At the same time, he was also racing in the World of Outlaws. In 2011, he became only the second driver to win in all three types of USAC cars in a single evening at Eldora Speedway. He would also go on to win in the K&N Pro Series and in the ARCA series, before he would move on to NASCAR. He has one championship so far, earned in 2021, and 26 race wins. He currently races full-time in the Cup Series for Hendrick Motorsports, while also dabbling in many other series. Of note, Larson ran the 2024 Indianapolis 500 with plans to run NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600 the same day, until weather unfortunately got in the way. 


(Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)


So back to SVG - does he have what it takes? He also comes from a history of racing karts and quarter midgets, until he found success in V8 Supercars. As mentioned earlier, he won his first ever Cup Series start at last year's Chicago Street Course. This year he is competing full-time in NASCAR's Xfinity Series, where he has won three consecutive road course races, including yesterday's event at the Chicago Street Course. 


Will he be NASCAR's next big star like so many before him? 


The NASCAR Cup Series Grant Park 165 in Chicago kicks off on Sunday at 4:30pm ET on NBC, with Shane Van Gisbergen starting fifth.

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