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Jul 7, 2024 1:13 pm

2024 Grant Park 165: Preview, Odds & Trends

chicago, nascar

In the nation’s Second City this weekend, standout road racer Shane van Gisbergen will be seeking his own second — another NASCAR Cup Series win.

When the Grant Park 165 takes the green flag Sunday for the second running of the Chicago Street Race, all eyes will be on the New Zealander’s return engagement in the Windy City.

van Gisbergen, 35, is the +200 favorite to do so at BetMGM, where he has been backed by the most total bets (13.8%) and money (27.5%) to win since opening at +550. That makes him the book’s biggest liability this week despite his short odds as the favorite.

The Trackhouse Motorsports driver shocked the NASCAR world one year ago when he won the inaugural Chicago race, locking down the victory as street lamps came to life and darkness descended on the city by the lake.

Nicknamed SVG for brevity’s sake, the Project 91 Chevrolet road-racing specialist worked his way past Justin Haley to win the race, which was shortened by 25 laps due to impending darkness.

The Auckland, New Zealand, native became the first driver to win his debut in NASCAR’s top series in 60 years. Johnny Rutherford won in 1963 at Daytona in a qualifying race, then considered a points event.

van Gisbergen is only driving a handful of Cup races this season, but he already has left an indelible mark on the Xfinity Series, where he races the No. 97 Chevrolet full time for Kaulig Racing alongside teammate AJ Allmendinger.

In the first Xfinity Series race of June at Portland Raceway, he beat Justin Allgaier on a restart with four laps to go. The three-time Australian Supercars champion then repeated the following weekend at Sonoma Raceway with another victory, leading 32 of 79 circuits and beating Sheldon Creed for his second career series triumph.

Kaulig team president Chris Rice has been impressed with van Gisbergen and said his style is different from that of Allmendinger, a road-racing ringer.

“It’s a different special,” Rice said. “AJ came into our place and has been one of the best road course racers ever in this sport. His driving style and SVG’s driving style is so different that SVG is going to be the best racer from Australia and the way they do it and he’s got to learn these cars.”

After van Gisbergen won the Xfinity pole, Kyle Larson went out and topped the chart for Sunday’s Cup Series race around the 2.2-mile temporary circuit by turning a lap in 127.836 seconds. His speed of 90.168 mph barely nipped Ty Gibbs’ of 90.158.

Michael McDowell and Tyler Reddick will occupy Row 2, while SVG and Bubba Wallace will line up behind them.

“SVG is a special driver,” Rice added. “He has more talent than we’ve seen in a long time come from anywhere else. He’s going to do very well, but when you get to the Cup side, it’s way harder than showing up in Xfinity.

“He has so much car control, it’s unbelievable.”

LARSON’S ON POLE
Kyle Larson has also seen his odds shorten since charging to the pole during Saturday’s qualifying.

After opening at +600, Larson’s odds had shifted to +310 by Sunday morning. He has also been backed by the second most total bets (9.4%) and money (12.0%).

“It wasn’t perfect,” said Larson, who ran a track-record 90.496 mph (87.518 seconds) in the opening round. “It was better than my first lap (in the final round), but I think I had better grip potential on the first lap, so I wish I could have had a couple corners back there.

“Judging by the reaction from my spotter, it had to be pretty close on lap time, so really awesome to get a pole here in Chicago … (We’ve) checked the first box and, hopefully, we can keep it going.”

It’s Larson’s series-best fifth pole of the season and the 21st of his career.

LONGSHOT PICK
Joey Logano (+10000): The two-time Cup Series champion is languishing at 14th in this season’s standings with a lone win and three top-5 finishes. However, that win came last week in five overtimes in Nashville after Logano started 26ths.

Logano, who has three top-6 finishes in his past five races, is also the book’s third-biggest liability this week, having drawn 2.9 percent of all money wagered on the race winner with his longshot odds.

–Field Level Media

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