NASCAR Chicago: XFinity Series rescheduled for Sunday morning due to storms in area

The Chainsmokers concert canceled; Grant Park 220 moved up 25 minutes

ByJohn Garcia, Mark Rivera, Tre Ward, Evelyn Holmes, and Stephanie Wade and Christian Piekos WLS logo
Sunday, July 2, 2023
NASCAR delays Chicago street race until Sunday AM due to storms
The 2023 NASCAR Chicago Street Race took off Saturday, but the XFinity Series was rescheduled for Sunday morning due to Chicago weather.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- NASCAR set off Saturday in Chicago for its first-ever street in the organization's 75-year history, but weather caused delays.

"It's my first here, and my first time seeing NASCAR, and its like, in Chicago, street racing. I'm pretty excited," said NASCAR fan Darrius Jackson.

The gates officially opened around 9 a.m. with fans streaming in to the course area and grandstands. Drivers hit the road for some Saturday morning practice loops, followed by qualifying and then, actual racing.

The course starts and ends at Buckingham Fountain, and loops through major city arteries like DuSable Lake Shore Drive, Michigan Avenue, Columbus Drive and select surrounding streets to form a 12-turn, 2.2-mile course.

The NASCAR XFinity Series raced in The Loop 121 on Saturday at 4 p.m. CT before weather caused a delay around 5:30 p.m. The racers had completed 24 laps and were on lap 25. Cole Custer was in first place.

"We had an amazing time. We're really bummed that it got rained out, because we can't come tomorrow," said Gail Montenegro.

The remainder of that race, with 30 laps to go, will now take place on Sunday morning at 10 a.m., NASCAR said. Doors will open at 9 a.m.

The Chainsmokers concert, scheduled for Saturday evening, has been canceled, NASCAR said. It will not be rescheduled.

"It's too bad. I wanted to see The Chainsmokers. We saw the Black Crowes earlier. They were awesome. If you're coming tomorrow, come. Hopefully this clears up," said Konstantinos Linverakis.

NASCAR released a statement, saying, "Due to the potential for continued lightning strikes and in the interest of public safety and caution, the facility needed to be evacuated. NASCAR had hoped to resume activities, but not until city officials allowed fans to return to the grandstands. The forecast for lightning extends into the next several hours, forcing NASCAR to postpone the completion of the NASCAR Xfinity Series race until tomorrow morning."

After the rescheduled race, the NASCAR Cup Series will takeover downtown in the Grant Park 220 on Sunday afternoon. That race, originally scheduled for 4:30 p.m., has been moved up to 4:05 p.m.

RELATED: NASCAR pit crew saves the day following fender bender on DuSable Lake Shore Drive

A massive NASCAR fan, Grant Park is where Jean-Marie Sylla wanted to be for his ninth birthday on Saturday.

"The physics and the science behind it. It's really fun, and I love learning about it each day," he said.

But sadly, the race cars were covered up for the night as dark skies loomed over Grant Park.

"But we saw a lot. So, we're thankful for that," said Sophia Egan.

"Rain rain go away. Come again another day. We will be back tomorrow," added Stephanie Jackson.

The two-day event not only highlights the city's lakefront and downtown, but also the racing of stock cars, which are large, late-model sedans that can exceed 200 mph.

"It's how greedy do you want to get for the lap time, and are you willing to pay the price doing it?" said NASCAR driver Ryan Preece.

Race cars are expected to hit speeds upwards of 100 mph throughout some of the courses' straightaways, racing past the iconic Chicago Skyline.

The 2023 NASCAR Chicago Street Race takes off Saturday with a first-ever street race, concerts and more.

"It is a one-of-a-kind experience, and we're really excited to be a part of it," said NASCAR sponsor Dan Toenjes.

NASCAR Chicago Street Race President Julie Giese talks to ABC7s Christian Piekos ahead of first race.

Drivers said the margin of error on this course is even smaller than on the topical oval tracks they race.

Some in the hospitality industry are watching to see if the economic impact of the race will be stunted by barriers that could keep locals and others away from the city this holiday weekend.

Two-time NASCAR Cup Series Champion Joey Logano said there's a lot of walls to hit here. "You overcook the entry a little bit and get in there a little too hard, you slide into the wall, so a lot more risk."

NASCAR Cup Series Driver Corey Lajoie says Chicago street course will be learning experience.

Previously drivers could only see the course on a simulator but Friday morning, they walked the course, getting an up-close look at the condition of the streets and the 12 turns.

NASCAR Cup Series driver Chase Briscoe said this course is course to every driver and "nobody will have the advantage."

"Were' all on an even playing field," Briscoe said.

NASCAR Cup Series driver Chase Briscoe says 'no one has the advantage' in this weekend's Chicago street races.

Despite being one of the most popular racing sports in the United States, NASCAR has seen declining attendance. This weekend's extravaganza helps celebrate NASCAR's 75th anniversary, and comes as the organization looks to reinvent itself by addressing changing fan demographics and economic challenges.

"We're really new to NASCAR, so this is our first time coming," said April Chambers. "We came because of Bubba Wallace. He had an event at DuSable, so that's why we're here."

Gates open at 9 a.m. on both Saturday and Sunday and that is also when the NASCAR Village at Butler Field opens.

RELATED: How to protect your ears from potentially harmful noise pollution during NASCAR weekend

ABC7 Chicago Team has some fun with NASCAR Cup Series driver Ryan Preece ahead of the race.

In addition to the racing, there are also a number of pre- and post-race concerts at the Lakefront Green Mobil 1 concert stage.


12-12:30 p.m. - The JC Brooks Band

2:20-3:20p.m.- The Black Crowes

7:30-9 p.m. The Chainsmokers (CANCELED)


12-1 p.m. - Charley Crockett

1:30-3 p.m. - Miranda Lambert

Paint The City

It takes a good cheer and lots of team effort to turn a one-of-a-kind blank canvas into a colorful work of art.

Chicago nonprofit Paint The City, which works to fuse together artists of color with opportunities, has been working collectively to add some color to this NASCAR race car.

"I know nothing about cars, so this is going to be amazing," said artist Brionna Sorret.

It takes a good cheer and lots of team effort to turn a one-of-a-kind blank canvas into a colorful work of art.

Barrett Keithley said the opportunity to commemorate this historic race in the Windy City with his passion is unlike anything he's done before.

"I'm a kid right now, I'm not going to lie," Keithley said. "You see the NASCAR races. You see the cars zooming by on the track, but you're not there. So, today, we get to be here. We get to be present."

Paint The City said it is working with NASCAR to make sure the mural accurately highlights the diverse city.

"We are going to try and fuse NASCAR and Chicago together, just like you see in the city today," Sorret said.

Once complete, the finished race car will find its new home, parked at the Museum of Science and Industry.

General admission tickets start at $269.