NASCAR Chicago Street Race

What do drivers expect in second Chicago Street Race? Here's what they're saying

Cup Series drivers Ross Chastain, Joey Logano, Chase Briscoe and Austin Cindric spoke about the Chicago Street Course ahead of Sunday's race.

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The Chicago Street Race isn't new anymore — but that doesn't mean NASCAR drivers are comfortable on the makeshift circuit.

Located in Grant Park, the 2.2-mile street course takes drivers around Columbus Drive, Jackson Boulevard, Michigan Avenue, Roosevelt Road, Balbo Drive and DuSable Lake Shore Drive — with speeds exceeding 100 mph in different sections.

The track has 12 turns — nine right-handers and three left-handers — which is tied for the third-most corners of any Cup Series circuit in 2024.

“I swear, I didn’t have a comfortable corner there last year," Ross Chastain said, via "I just couldn’t get comfortable … like I wasn’t right off the bat, and it never came throughout the race. So yeah, looking for a lot more there and just being comfortable with it. I’ve had a year to wrap my head around what that was like; those concrete cannons between the walls. Yeah, all were difficult.”

Chastain, who drives the No. 1 Chevy for Trackhouse Racing, has a unique perspective heading into the 2024 event. His teammate Shane van Gisbergen won the inaugural race last July, so he can lean on the New Zealander for help getting around these streets.

But even with a full race of data to analyze, Chastain still isn't certain that he'll be comfortable in Year 2.

“There’s just so much data we can look at, so I can learn just as much hearing from (van Gisbergen) as I can looking through his stuff, how he made speed compared to me,” Chastain said. “And it’s confidence, a lot of it is confidence. It’s intentionally placing the car where he wanted to place it, and I was trying to place it kind of between the walls and he was placing it at the wall, maximizing left and right. Easy to say it, but really hard to do it.”

Joey Logano, a two-time Cup champion, was among the drivers who didn't enjoy the track in 2023. You'd think the guy who won in Nashville last Sunday might have some confidence, but the Team Penske driver isn't showing it.

“Headache in a bottle,” Logano said when asked about the track, via “I mean, it’s just a tough one — lots of bumps, a very risky feeling. A lot of it’s just walls everywhere. There’s no runoff. So you overshoot a corner, as bumpy as it is, you lock up a tire, you slide, there’s no runoff, right?”

Logano argued that only one driver in the field enjoyed the difficulties of street racing last year.

“Kind of, if you’re Shane. Everyone else in the field might not agree,” Logano said when asked if Chicago's unique challenge was fun. “I mean, it just fell right into his wheelhouse really, really well. And he’s just really good at clipping the corners right at the edge. I mean, he didn’t leave any room for error, and he can hit it really well.”

Logano's fellow Ford drivers Chase Briscoe and Austin Cindric also harped on the challenges that arose during the first event last year.

Briscoe, driving the No. 14 for Stewart-Haas Racing, finished 20th in Chicago last year. Cindric, meanwhile, managed a sixth-place result after starting way back in 31st.

While Briscoe is concerned about the tightness of the track, Cindric is more worried about the bumps of the city streets.

“It’s just super narrow,” Briscoe said. “I say it’s narrow — it’s narrow for a lot of places we go, but for a street course, I thought it was honestly probably pretty wide. I just remember it being tighter in some areas than others. It was rough, really rough into some braking zones and just really unique. For a street course, you don’t think of having elevation but you come over that bridge a couple of times and the downhill braking, it’s just a hard place to pass, but it was really well done, I thought. It’s a track where you don’t get any break.”

“It’s the largest bumps, high-speed area, and the tightest and most unforgiving wall,” Cindric said, “and maybe I say that because I crashed there twice last year on Saturday (in practice and qualifying), but definitely a big risk/reward section. Street-course racing is all about risk-reward — a lot of reward for being able to maximize the width of the race track, but obviously, that comes with a lot of risk when you’re dealing with concrete walls.”

When is the NASCAR Chicago Street Race in 2024?

Both the NASCAR Cup Series and Xfinity Series will be racing in Chicago over the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

The Xfinity Series, which is considered the second-highest level of stock car racing below the Cup Series, begins at 2:30 p.m. CT on Saturday with The Loop 110.

The Cup Series race, known as the Grant Park 165, is set for 3:30 p.m. CT Sunday.

Both races will air on NBC and stream on Peacock.

Steve Lauletta, the Team President of Michael Jordan's 23XI racing team, chatted about the sport with NBC Chicago's Ruthie Polinsky ahead of the NASCAR Chicago Street Race.
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