Facts & Stats Friday: NASCAR Cup Series Grant Park 220 on the Chicago Street Course
30 June 2023
By Bob Francis, Managing Editor
Go Full Throttle Racing News
CHICAGO, IL — NASCAR is getting ready to race on the streets of Chicago for the first time as we post up this week’s Go Full Throttle ‘Facts & Stats Friday’ to get you ready to make your Fantasy Racing picks and/or wagers for the Grant Park 220. Chicago will add another chapter to its illustrious sports history when the NASCAR Cup Series debuts against the backdrop of Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline on Sunday, July 2 at 5:30 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
“Like the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum, we seized an incredible opportunity to add an unprecedented element to our schedule and take center stage in the heart of another major metropolitan market,” said Ben Kennedy, NASCAR senior vice president of racing development and strategy. “This is the ideal setting for the first-ever NASCAR Cup Series street race. The NASCAR Cup Series Next Gen cars will race along the shores of Lake Michigan in downtown Chicago, marking a truly historic moment for our sport.”
Lake Shore Drive, Michigan Avenue, Columbus Drive and select surrounding thoroughfares will be transformed into a 12-turn, 2.2-mile street course, with the start/finish line and pit road located along South Columbus Drive directly in front of Buckingham Fountain. The course will pass through the famed Grant Park, as well as approach the northern edge of Soldier Field, one of the most notable and recognizable sports venues in the country — and the site of the only other Cup Series race to take place in Downtown Chicago, in 1956.
“Welcoming yet another NASCAR event to Illinois just weeks after the inaugural Enjoy Illinois 300 Cup Series race is a testament to the strength of our tourism industry from Chicago to Metro East,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “Illinois, with its longstanding tradition of innovation, is a fitting host for NASCAR’s first-ever street race, and we are thrilled to welcome this new series to America’s most iconic drive.”
The Chicago Street Race will become the 177th different track the NASCAR Cup Series has competed on its 75 year history.
“I think it’s a good idea, I’ve just never done street racing before,” said current point standing leader Martin Truex Jr. “I’m optimistic that it’s going to be a good time and it’s going to go off well. I have no idea the logistics involved. I can’t even imagine what goes into it. It’s going to be interesting to see a street course with these cars, what the grip level might be in each corner. You just wonder what the difference is in each turn — that’s the competitor side of me thinking. On the race fan side, it seems like it’s going to be cool, so we will see how it goes. Hopefully, it’s a good turnout and it goes off well. I enjoy tracks that are unique and challenging and it’s always a good challenge to learn a new place.”
On-track action for the NASCAR Cup Series will get started with a practice and Busch Light Pole Qualifying on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. ET, both events will be televised on the USA Network.
More Than Racing: The Chainsmokers, Miranda Lambert, The Black Crowes, Charley Crockett to Headline Chicago Street Race Concerts
Fans will have tons to do this weekend at the Chicago Street Race. NASCAR has announced that The Chainsmokers and Miranda Lambert will headline full-length concerts with the support of The Black Crowes and Charley Crockett for the first-ever street race weekend in the NASCAR Cup Series, on July 1–2. The unprecedented 12-turn, 2.2-mile street race will take the Cup Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series past and through many of Chicago’s most renowned downtown landmarks as part of a two-day festival during Fourth of July Weekend.
“The Chicago Street Race is truly a first-of-its-kind two-day sports and entertainment event in the 75-year history of NASCAR,” said Chicago Street Race President Julie Giese. “We are proud to welcome superstars The Chainsmokers, Miranda Lambert, The Black Crowes, and Charley Crockett as we reimagine the NASCAR experience in the heart of downtown Chicago over Fourth of July weekend.”
On Saturday, July 1, the Chicago Street Race will feature Xfinity Series and Cup Series practice and qualifying followed by The Black Crowes concert. Following the Xfinity Series race, The Chainsmokers will take the stage for a full-length concert to close the first day. On Sunday, July 2, Charley Crockett will open with Miranda Lambert headlining a full-length concert in advance of the first-ever Cup Series street race — the Grant Park 220.
The Chainsmokers, Alexander “Alex” Pall and Andrew “Drew” Taggert, are recognized as two of the best electronic dance musicians with a diverse portfolio of songs that has led them to become one of the hottest recording artists in the world. In 2016, the duo burst on the scene with three multi-Platinum certified hits including the GRAMMY nominated song “Closer.” The group has won multiple awards including the 2017 GRAMMY for Best Dance Recording (“Don’t Let Me Down”), two American Music Awards (2016, 2017) and 10 Billboard Music Awards. The Chainsmokers fourth studio album “So Far So Good” debuted last year at №1 on the Billboard Dance/Electronic Album Chart. For more information on The Chainsmokers, visit thechainsmokers.com.
Lambert is one of country music’s most acclaimed performers and songwriters. Palomino, the eighth solo album from Vanner Records/RCA Nashville superstar Lambert, is the latest installment in a storied career that has spanned seven №1 solo albums, 10 №1 hit radio singles, more than 70 prestigious awards (including three GRAMMY Awards and a record-setting 37 ACM Awards) plus countless sales certifications, earning the reigning ACM Entertainer of the Year praise from NPR as “the most riveting country star of her generation.” To learn more about Lambert, visit www.mirandalambert.com.
The Black Crowes, led by brothers Chris and Rich Robinson, released their debut album Shake Your Money Maker over 30 years ago. Fueled by singles “JealousAgain,” “Twice As Hard,” “She Talks to Angels,” and the breakthrough cover of Otis Redding’s “Hard to Handle,” the band immediately took the rock world by storm. The Black Crowes has released eight studio albums and four live albums, selling tens of millions of albums and selling out shows around the world. To learn more about The Black Crowes and their authentic gritty blues-rock sound, visit theblackcrowes.com.
Crockett crafts his singular “Gulf & Western” sound by synthesizing country, blues, soul, cajun, R&B and other pieces of American roots music. And when his voice comes out of your speakers, there is no confusing him for any other artist. Crockett released his latest album The Man From Waco last fall via Son of Davy/Thirty Tigers. Crockett wrote or co-wrote all 14 songs on the album, which finds Crockett refining his “Gulf & Western” sound that continues to captivate his ever-growing legion of fans. For more information on Crockett, visit charleycrockett.com.
Sunday’s Grant Park 220 to be NASCAR’s 100th race in the state of Illinois
NASCAR is no stranger to the state of Illinois, and this weekend the sanctioning-body will host its 100th NASCAR national series race in the prairie state welcoming the newly designed Chicago Street Race — the sixth different track NASCAR has competed on in Illinois.
The first NASCAR national series race held in the state of Illinois was a NASCAR Cup Series event at Santa Fe Speedway in Willow Springs, Illinois. The event was held on July 10, 1954 and it was won by Dick Rathman driving a Hudson for car owner John Ditz. Finishing runner-up in the race was NASCAR Hall of Famer Hershel McGriff also driving a Hudson.
In total, NASCAR has previous competed on five tracks in Illinois with Chicagoland Speedway (2001–2019) hosted the most (54 races) of the five facilities.
This weekend will also not be the first time the NASCAR Cup Series has competed in Downtown Chicago. In 1956, the series competed at Soldier Field and the race was won by NASCAR Hall of Famer Fireball Roberts in a Pete DePaolo Ford. Most recently the NASCAR Cup Series competed at World Wide Technology Raceway on
Race To The Playoffs: Chastain the latest to lock into the postseason with a win
Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain has become the 11th different driver to win this season and lock himself into the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs after taking the checkered flag in a dominate performance at Nashville Superspeedway last weekend. With 11 spots in the Playoffs already taken and only nine races left until the postseason, time and space is running out for competitors to earn their spot.
Holding the most comfortable spots on the Playoff outlook of the drivers without wins, is Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick, who is 164 points ahead of the Playoff cutline. RFK Racing teammates Brad Keselowski (+99 points) and Chris Buescher (+98 points) are also in good standing heading into this weekend. But 23XI Racing’s Bubba Wallace (+30 points) in 15th and Trackhouse Racing’s Daniel Suarez (+2 points) in 16th will have their work cut out for them if they want to hold on to their positions.
Currently there are five drivers that made the Playoffs last season that are below the postseason cutline heading into this weekend — Alex Bowman (-2 points), Austin Cindric (-51), Chase Elliott (-64), Austin Dillon (-106), and Chase Briscoe (-164).
Road Course Aces: NASCAR’s best in road racing
Though this weekend’s race is technically on a ‘street course’ and not a ‘road course’ a similar approach to being successful this Sunday will apply. NASCAR’s active road course wins leader, Hendrick Motorsport’s Chase Elliott, heads into this weekend looking for his first win of the season and is already considered one of the early favorites for this weekend, but the most recent winner on a road course in the series and current points leader Martin Truex Jr. will most certainly be in the mix as well.
Button, van Gisbergen among the new faces in the garage attempting the Chicago Street Race — NASCAR is bringing the international flare to the Chicago Street Race with the Grant Park 220 on Sunday, July 2 at 5:30 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio as drivers from around the world will compete in the inaugural event in Downtown Chicago.
Not only will Trackhouse Racing have NASCAR Cup Series regular Daniel Suarez from Monterrey, Mexico piloting the №99 Chevrolet this weekend, but also the organization will field a third car the Project 91 entry and will have New Zealand native and three-time Supercars champion Shane van Gisbergen behind the wheel. This will be van Ginsberg’s first attempt at a NASCAR event.
“I can honestly say I have dreamed about an opportunity in NASCAR, but really never thought it would become a reality,” van Gisbergen said. “I can’t wait to get to the states to meet everyone and prepare for Chicago. It’s NASCAR’s first time on the streets of Chicago, so in some ways everyone will be a rookie like me, but I don’t underestimate that it’s going to be a huge challenge.”
Trackhouse Racing debuted the №91 car with former Formula One champion Kimi Raikkonen at Watkins Glen. He finished 37th after he was collected in an incident. Raikkonen returned to run for the team at Circuit of the Americas this season, finishing 29th. Chicago will mark the third race for the Project 91 car.
Also returning to the NASCAR Cup Series after making his series debut at Austin earlier this season is former Formula One champion Jenson Button, who will pilot the №15 Ford for Rick Ware Racing. Button is a native of Frome, England. In his Cup Series debut at COTA, Button started 24th and finished 18th.