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Thrilling last minute victory in Portland NASCAR Xfinity race

(PORTLAND TRIBUNE) — For most of Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series Pacific Office Automation 147 race at Portland International Raceway, it looked like Justin Allgaier would be dominant in his No. 7 Brandt Chevrolet Camaro, but in the final laps on June 1, New Zealand-born Shane Van Gisbergen recovered from some early race mistakes in his No. 97 Quad Lock Chevrolet Camaro and claimed the lead on a restart with just five laps to go.

NASCAR’s three-stage format for the Xfinity Series has historically allowed drivers to recover from early mistakes, with plenty of time to work back through the field before the checkered flag. The 75-lap race is divided into three 25-lap stages for which drivers can earn points. Each stage ends with a caution period to allow drivers to pit for tires, fuel, and repairs. A pit stop in this series must last at least 63 seconds, so pitting under caution is strongly preferred by the teams.

At this weekend’s race, Van Gisbergen qualified in second place behind Sam Mayer in the No. 1 RTC Outdoors Chevrolet Camaro, but the two had contact in the first corner and dropped back in the field. “I’m pretty pissed at myself [for that],” Van Gisbergen said after the race.

At the start of the race, Allgaier moved up from 7th on grid to take second place behind Riley Herbst in the No. 98 Monster Energy Ford Mustang. But by the 15th lap, Van Gisbergen and Allgaier had raced into the lead. But on lap 23, Van Gisbergen made a pit stop under the green flag that sent him to the back of the field. While Van Gisbergen’s crew worked on the car, Allgaier took over the lead and held it through the end of the first stage. Starting the second stage from the lead, Allgaier drove a masterful 25 laps to claim the second stage win, and after surviving a challenge from Sheldon Creed in the No. 18 Friends of Jaclyn Foundation Toyota Supra, Allgaier maintained his lead for 20 more laps.

A late-stage crash brought out a caution flag for cleanup, and the race restarted with 10 laps to go. Allgaier again jumped out in front and seemed as though he couldn’t be challenged. But then a major four-car crash at PIR’s treacherous Turn 12 brought out another caution flag, which allowed Van Gisbergen, now in second place, to get one last chance for the win.

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