GFT Facts & Stats Friday: NASCAR Cup Series Grant Park 165 at Chicago Street Course

Bob Francis - Go Full Throttle
6 min read6 days ago

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5 July 2024
By Bob Francis, Managing Editor
Go Full Throttle Racing News

CHICAGO, IL — NASCAR Cup Series returns to the streets of Chicago for the second consecutive year for the Grant Park 165 on Sunday, July 7 at 4:30 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Lake Shore Drive, Michigan Avenue, Columbus Drive and select surrounding thoroughfares will be transformed into a 12-turn, 2.20-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 a 1956 Cup Series race.

NASCAR’s second trip into the Windy City to run the Chicago Street Course comes with a handful of changes to competition procedures from 2023.

This season marks the second of a minimum three-year commitment between NASCAR and the City of Chicago. NASCAR returns to the Second City for the second-ever Street Race in Cup Series history. The Chicago Street Race Weekend is a unique two-day sports and entertainment event with a festival-like atmosphere that exemplifies NASCAR’s characteristic fan experience that puts attendees closer to the action than any other sport. Coupled with top-tier musical performances from global headliners, the Chicago Street Race Weekend is a once-in-a-lifetime experiential opportunity for any sports, music, and entertainment fan.

On-track action for the NASCAR Cup Series will get started with a 50-minute practice followed by Busch Light Pole Qualifying on Saturday, July 6 at 2 p.m. ET on the USA Network, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Kiwi’s Kingdom: Shane Van Gisbergen is back to defend Chicago victory

New Zealander Shane van Gisbergen (SVG) is back in the NASCAR Cup Series this weekend at the Chicago Street Course to defend his last season win. But this time with a new team, the Kaulig Racing №16 Chevrolet.

Last year, as part of the Trackhouse Racing Project 91 program, Shane van Gisbergen and several other drivers from high-level racing disciplines were given opportunities to compete in the NASCAR Cup Series at select events. Van Gisbergen just so happened to be the most successful of the group, winning in his first appearance in the NASCAR Cup Series at inaugural Chicago Street Race.

The win was monumental in Van Gisbergen’s racing career as well as statistically. SVG is just the seventh different driver in NASCAR Cup Series history to win in their first appearance, and the first to do it since 1963.

Van Gisbergen became the sixth different driver not from the United States to win a NASCAR Cup Series race with his Chicago victory last season, joining Mario Andretti (Italy), Juan Pablo Montoya (Colombia), Earl Ross (Canada), Marcos Ambrose (Australia) and Daniel Suarez (Mexico).

Now the road ace from Auckland returns to defend his win in Chicago, and if he were to accomplish the feat, Van Gisbergen would tie Marcos Ambrose (two wins at Watkins Glen), Daniel Suarez (two wins: one at Sonoma and one at Atlanta) and Juan Pablo Montoya (two wins: one at Watkins Glen and one at Sonoma) for the most wins by driver not from the United States with two each.

Race To The Playoffs: Logano the latest to earn a spot in the postseason with a win

Team Penske’s Joey Logano has become the 11th different driver to win this season and earn himself a spot in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. With 11 spots in the 16-driver Playoff field already spoken for, and only seven races left until the postseason, time and space are running out for competitors to earn their postseason position.

Playoff Bound:

Last weekend, two-time series champion Joey Logano took the checkered flag following five overtimes in a performance of preservation at Nashville Superspeedway. Now, with 11 drivers in 2024 with wins, only five spot are still up for grabs in the Playoffs as the series heads to the Chicago Street Course this weekend for the Grant Park 165 (July 7 at 4:30 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) — the 20th race of the season.

The 11 drivers this season currently holding a spot in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs by virtue of their regular season wins are Kyle Larson (three wins), Denny Hamlin (three), Christopher Bell (three), William Byron (three), Chase Elliott (one), Tyler Reddick (one), Ryan Blaney (one), Brad Keselowski (one), Daniel Suarez (one), Austin Cindric (one) and Joey Logano (one).

In The Hot Seats:

The five drivers currently in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff transfer spots on points are Martin Truex Jr. (+143 points up on postseason cutoff), Ty Gibbs (+70), Ross Chastain (+66), Chris Buescher (+56) and Alex Bowman (+51).

Hendrick Motorsports’ Alex Bowman is currently in the most precarious position (16th) of the five drivers inside the Playoff cutoff heading into Chicago this weekend. Though he holds a stout 51 point edge over 23XI Racing’s Bubba Wallace in 17th, if a driver below Bowman in the standings wins over the next seven races, he could find himself bounced out of the Playoffs.

Outside Looking In:

There are currently 18 drivers still eligible to make the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs that are without a win and below the postseason cut line in points following Nashville.

23XI Racing’s Bubba Wallace (-51 points), is one of seven drivers currently below the Playoff cutline that has made the Cup Series Playoffs previously, along with Chase Briscoe (-78 points), two-time Cup champion Kyle Busch (-104 points), Michael McDowell (-166), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (-194), Erik Jones (-217) and Austin Dillon (-261).

Chicago Street Course — Stats & Tidbits

TRACK DATA

Race Purse: $7,978,831

Track Size: 2.20-miles

Number of Turns: 12

Track Type: Asphalt Street Course

Race Length: 75 laps (165-miles)

Stage 1 Length: 20 laps

Stage 2 Length: 25 laps (Ends on Lap 45)

Final Stage Length: 50 laps (Ends on Laps 75)

QUALIFYING & RACE RECORDS

Track Qualifying Record:

Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, 89.557 MPH, 88.435 seconds, July, 1 2023

Track Race Record:

Shane van Gisbergen, Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet, 60.281 MPH, (2:50:48), July 2, 2023

Initial GFT NASCAR Fantasy Live Picks for the Chicago Street Race

**NOTE** Be sure to follow us on X (aka Twitter) to see the updated GFT NASCAR Fantasy Live picks AFTER our AI models ingest the Practice and Qualifying data. For a Sunday race, this usually happens overnight Saturday and is published Sunday morning at least 2 hours before the green flag.

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Bob Francis - Go Full Throttle

Go Full Throttle editors and reporters bring you news & commentary on NASCAR, F1, IndyCar, and World of Outlaws. Member: National Motorsports Press Association