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Shane van Gisbergen races to 2nd straight NASCAR Xfinity victory, winning from the pole at Sonoma

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SONOMA, Calif. (AP) — Shane van Gisbergen raced to his second straight Xfinity Series victory, winning from the pole Saturday at Sonoma Raceway to further build his reputation as one of the best road racers in NASCAR.

The former rugby player then autographed a rugby ball and kicked it into the grandstands — same as last week in Oregon — following a crowd-pleasing burnout of thick plumes of white smoke.

In his first full season of NASCAR competition, the New Zealander is running a mixed schedule with several teams in a development program for Trackhouse Racing. The star from Australian V8 Supercars earned the job after winning the Cup race on the Chicago street course in his NASCAR debut.

He finished his racing commitments in Australia then moved to the United States late last year to prepare for his switch to NASCAR. He raced to his his first career Xfinity Series win last week on the road course at Portland, and followed it Saturday with his first career pole in qualifying.

“What we did to make the car better between races, it was awesome racing and we were really pushing each other,” he said. “It’s certainly special to win two road course races in a row and one day I dream about winning on a oval.”

Van Gisbergen backed it up by leading 33 of the 79 laps for Kaulig Racing. He found himself in second next to Austin Hill on a restart with 11 laps remaining and that’s when he finally took control of the race for good.

Hill chose to restart the race on the inside with van Gisbergen on the outside in a duel of Chevrolets. Hill held the lead through the first turn but van Gisbergen stayed in place in a classic Sonoma move that positioned him on the inside as the two cars headed into the second turn.

Van Gisbergen powered past Hill, who lost several positions before recovering to finish fifth.

“Just gave it all I had and two guys going for the same piece of real estate came together,” van Gisbergen said.

Hill was reluctant to discuss the winning pass.

“I plead the fifth,” Hill said. “I’m not gonna say anything about it. We’ll just go on to the next one.”

Sheldon Creed finished second in a Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing and was followed by Sam Mayer, Austin Green and Hill — all in Chevys. Cole Custer in ninth was the top Ford driver.

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AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/hub/auto-racing

By JENNA FRYER
AP Auto Racing Writer

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