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Your Guide to NASCAR’s Chicago Street Race: Grant Park 220

Your Guide to NASCAR’s Chicago Street Race: Grant Park 220

Updated Jul. 3, 2023

The Fourth of July weekend was an exciting time for NASCAR, as drivers and fans got to experience the race of a lifetime: the first-ever Chicago Street Race. Officials named the new course Grant Park 220 in honor of the neighborhood of Chicago that held the 220-mile race.

DIRECTV Insider has the NASCAR coverage you need. Here we share with you the results of the monumental race as well as some of the most memorable moments from the course.  

Start your engine, get set… Go!

WHO WON THE NASCAR GRANT PARK 220?

The first-ever Cup Series winner of the Grant Park 220 was three-time Supercars champion Shane van Gisbergen. Behind van Gisbergen by 1.259 seconds was No. 31, Justin Haley, followed by Chase Elliot in third.

If you’re not familiar with No. 91 van Gisbergen, you’re not the only one. The young New Zealander made this historical race even more exciting, as Grant Park was his debut NASCAR Cup Series race. He became the first driver since 1963 to win their Cup debut (Johnny Rutherford won the second qualifying race in Daytona).

According to the Associated Press, he is the sixth driver born outside of the US to win a NASCAR Cup Series race, adding even more novelty to this outstanding victory.

WHAT IS PROJECT91?

Trackhouse Racing fields No. 1 Ross Chastain and No. 99 Daniel Suarez, and created PROJECT91 to expand the team’s talent. With the many developments in NASCAR, it has become more common for racers from other motorsports to come and try their hand at NASCAR.

And that is exactly what Trackhouse’s owner, Justin Marks, had in mind with this project: give talented racers from other countries and leagues a chance to take a whirl in the Cup Series.

And it certainly seems like things are working out for the team, as van Gisbergen takes his victory back Down Under, with a chance he returns full-time to NASCAR next season.

GRANT PARK 220 HIGHLIGHTS

The 2.2-mile course around the sights of Chicago was up and ready to go for Sunday’s start, but the weather had a different idea. But historic amounts of rainfall flooding Chicago’s downtown wasn’t going to stop this parade of 38 drivers.

Here are some of the top highlights from the inaugural street race:

  • No. 11 Denny Hamlin earned the pole for the race, but couldn’t take it all the way, finishing in 11th place.
  • After starting the race an hour later than planned due to rain, NASCAR officials decided to shorten the race from 100 2.2-mile loops to 75. They did this on Lap 46. 
  • Cautions from the race included Kyle Busch losing control and slamming through a tire barrier (see the safety measures below) on Lap 3; Noah Gragson on Lap 13; William Byron and Kevin Harvick lost control and caused a 12-car jam.
  • On Lap 68, van Gisbergen moved into second position behind Justin Haley, with Chase Elliot behind them after Martin Truex Jr. went into the tire barrier and was unable to continue.
  • After a caution caused by a collision between Bubba Wallace and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. on Lap 74, van Gisbergen took the win in overtime. 

And with the end of the first Chicago Street Race comes our next stop on the NASCAR 2023 season circuit, the Quaker State 400 Presented by Walmart.


CHICAGO STREET RACE: WHAT IS THE GRANT PARK 220 RACE?

NASCAR has been evolving since its official start just over 75 years ago. And in its 75th season, it’s still innovating to challenge racers and keep fans entertained. Enter the Chicago Street Race Weekend, taking place on the Fourth of July weekend in the Grant Park neighborhood of the Windy City.

Over the holiday weekend, Cup Series drivers will enter a type of race different than they’re used to. The course is a 12-turn, 2.2-mile loop that passes by many of Chicago’s most well-known attractions and landmarks for a total of 220-miles.

Fans will watch as drivers speed down iconic streets like Columbus Drive, Michigan Avenue and along Lake Michigan.

Some of the landmarks you can expect to see include Buckingham Fountain, Art Institue of Chicago and the start and finish line of the Chicago Marathon. But more on the course and the challenges it might present to drivers soon.

First, let’s talk about a question some may be asking: Why Chicago?

WHY CHICAGO?

Chicago is great and all, but how did it get to be the city holding the first-ever Cup Series Street Race in NASCAR’s history?

As it turns out, Chicago was home to the first automobile race in the nation back in 1895. Knowing that the city was such an important part of turning NASCAR into what it is today, it’s the perfect place to bring this race full circle.

WHO IS COMPETING IN THE GRANT PARK 220?

The qualifying event for Grant Park 220 takes place on Saturday, July 1. Until then, we only know the 38 drivers competing, but not the order in which they will take the course.

  • Ross Chastain 
  • Austin Cindric
  • Austin Dillon
  • Kevin Harvick
  • Kyle Larson
  • Brad Keselowski
  • Corey Lajoie
  • Kyle Busch
  • Chase Elliot
  • Aric Almirola
  • Denny Hamlin
  • Ryan Blaney
  • Chase Briscoe
  • Jenson Button
  • AJ Allmendinger
  • Chris Buescher
  • Martin Truex Jr.
  • Christopher Bell
  • Harrison Burton
  • Joey Logano
  • Bubba Wallace
  • William Byron
  • Justin Haley
  • Michael McDowell
  • Todd Gilliland
  • Ryan Preece
  • Noah Gragson
  • Erik Jones
  • Tyler Reddick
  • Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  • Alex Bowman
  • Andy Lally
  • Ty Gibbs
  • Ty Dillon
  • Josh Bilicki
  • Daniel Suárez

HOW TO WATCH THE NASCAR GRANT PARK 220?

The inaugural Chicago Street Race will take place over the Fourth of July weekend on July 1-2. Both Saturday and Sunday will be filled with activities – NASCAR related and more – to keep you busy before the race.

If you’re watching at home, Grant Park 220 will be nationally broadcast on Sunday, July 2, 2023, at 5:30 pm ET on NBC. NBC is available on channel 12 for most DIRECTV subscribers.

And with DIRECTV, you can record the race to your DVR, so you can replay this iconic event start to finish. So even if you’re going to the event, you can come home and relive the memories whenever you want.

COURSE LAYOUT AND NEW CHALLENGES FOR DRIVERS

Chicago Street Race, Course Map

Festival Map provided by NASCAR Chicago 

 The Chicago Street Race is an exciting development for NASCAR, but it’s not without some kinks to work out. Some drivers, including Bubba Wallace, expressed concern over the 12 turns of the course. He said: “Racing through the city streets, very narrow, I honestly don’t know how it’s all going to work out… I think there are a lot of us that are skeptical in the field.”

Other drivers, though, are excited and eager for the novel opportunity. Ryan Blaney, another NASCAR driver, said to NBC Chicago:

“I was pretty excited because we haven’t done anything like that before. Part of me is nervous because we’ve never been to a street course before, and I don’t know how it’s going to race, but I think it’s going to be a hell of an event.”

SAFETY MEASURES AND PREPARATIONS

Hosting a race in one of the busiest cities in the country calls for some serious measures to keep drivers and fans safe. The 2.2-mile course is slowly but surely becoming more race ready, as work crews continue placing 10,000-pound barriers lining the track boundaries throughout downtown Chicago.

These barriers are 12-feet long each and only 3.5-feet tall, likely to avoid viewing disturbances. Another level of protection for fans comes from the eight-foot-tall fence connected to the barriers. Fans planning to attend the event are required to stay behind the 15-foot space barrier between the track and the stands.

One especially daunting safety concern is that drivers will have very little time to practice on the make-shift street track. Until Saturday, July 1, the racers will be practicing only with a simulator. And while the technology is pretty advanced, there’s nothing like the real thing.

NASCAR Street Race President, Julie Giese, remarked: “They essentially will have an hour of practice time to qualify and from there they will race.”

Despite not getting a feel for the track, mechanics will tweak the cars to address potential bumps on the road and the turns of the course.

WHAT TO EXPECT IN CHICAGO?

To honor the city and community, The NASCAR Chicago Street Race will send 220 local kids aged 6-12 (one for each mile of the course) to the Chicago Park District’s Summer Day Camp. That’s not the only reason the first-ever Chicago Street Race will be a community-wide event to remember.

NASCAR has pulled out all the stops and is bringing in several musical guests. These include full-length concerts performed by The Chainsmokers, Miranda Lambert, and the Black Crowes.

And according to a press release from the City of Chicago, community members are encouraged to explore the area, whether you have a ticket or not:

“Access to popular park features like Buckingham Fountain, Butler Field, and Lower Hutchinson Field will remain accessible to the public with minimal restrictions that equate to less than one-fifth of event operation days. In addition, free festival activities associated with the Chicago Street Race will be held on Butler Field, inviting the public to learn more about NASCAR without the price of admission. Maggie Daley Park, Cancer Survivor’s Garden, and the Museum Campus will remain open and accessible throughout the event and welcome visitors during regular operating hours.”

This Cup Series race is certainly going to be one to remember – and hopefully the first of a long tradition.

ROAD CLOSURES AND PARKING RESTRICTIONS

Whether you’re a Chi-town local or visiting for the first ever street race in NASCAR’s 75-year history, you’ll want to be aware of street closures and partial lane closures around the track and city.

Here is the official list of road closures and parking restrictions that will be in place over the course of the race weekend.

ECONOMIC BOOST EXPECTED FROM NASCAR STREET RACE

In addition to NASCAR’s free festival activities and musical performances, the event will boost revenue for local businesses across the city. As the city welcomes visitors for the race, it will also be an opportunity for local businesses to market to an entirely new share of potential customers.

NASCAR officials have estimated the race weekend could bring in over $100 million additional economic revenue, thanks to the thousands of out-of-town visitors the race is expected to attract. Most of this revenue will come in the form of lodging and restaurants, but businesses of all kinds are expecting some sort of boost.

WATCH THE CHICAGO STREET RACE: GRANT PARK 220 ON DIRECTV

NASCAR’s first-ever Street Race is coming up quickly, and it’s not an event you want to miss. DIRECTV customers can catch the race broadcast on Sunday, July 2, 2023, at 5:30 pm ET on NBC.  NBC is available on channel 12 for most DIRECTV subscribers.

And if you’re looking for more NASCAR content, stick around.

DIRECTV’s channel lineup gives you direct access to every NASCAR race throughout the season, every single week. Even better, DIRECTV’s Insider Blog will keep you up to date with everything you need to know for all the top races, including qualifying drivers, winners and stats.

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