Shane van Gisbergen wins NASCAR Cup Series street race; XFinity Series will not resume

Cole Custer declared winner of shortened XFinity Series race; concerts canceled due to weather

ByJohn Garcia and Stephanie Wade and Christian Piekos WLS logo
Monday, July 3, 2023
Shane van Gisbergen wins NASCAR Cup Series; XFinity Series cut short
Shane van Gisbergen won the NASCAR Cup Series on Sunday. The XFinity Series will not resume after a Flash Flood Warning.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Shane van Gisbergen won the NASCAR Cup Series in Grant Park on Sunday afternoon.

After multiple weather delays, the race finally kicked off, but it was cut down to 75 laps from 100 laps. That race was supposed to begin at 4:05 p.m., but started just after 5:15 p.m.

"It was crazy seeing the rain. I was heartbroken, thinking I wasn't gonna go," said Caron Steele.

It was a long day of uncertainty, but fans finally heard that beloved sound.

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"It's just so exciting to hear the sound of the cars rippling through the city," said Stuart Llewellyn.

Pit crews did what they could to clear the track of standing water after hours-long deluge, using every resource available, including a leaf blower.

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"Once we saw it was tapering off, we saw they were drying the cars off, we got excited. We hit it, and got down here," said John Llewellyn.

Elijah Williams helped sing the national anthem, which they moved inside the media room to usher in the race.

"I've been a racing fan pretty much my whole life, and this is actually my first NASCAR event. And, I got the opportunity to perform. It feels surreal," Williams said.

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Fans were more than ready, especially since the weather kept drivers off the race past their scheduled start time.

"I feel like a soggy mess. My sweatshirt is soaked. My shoes, I feel like I'm walking on water, but it's worth it," said Amber Jeschke.

"We got absolutely soaked, but we had a fun time," said Will Otter.

"I'm excited about it. I mean, it's the first time anything like this has happened, so I'm very happy to be part of it," said Malcolm Majors.

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The course started and ended at Buckingham Fountain, and looped 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.

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Drivers had their windshield wipers going as they made those tight turns around the challenging course, prompting several crashes on the slick streets. Race cars hit speeds upwards of 100 mph.

"I tell you, it was a real tough course. Having done a little myself, just as a hobby, these guys were nailing it. They were hitting it so hard," said John Sobol.

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Drivers said the margin of error on this course is even smaller than on the typical oval tracks they race. 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," he said.

The pit road had plenty of wear and tear after just part of the first race on Saturday afternoon.

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After being postponed Saturday due to weather, the NASCAR XFinity Series will no longer resume, NASCAR said in a statement after the weather didn't quite clear up on Sunday morning. The National Weather Service issued a Flash Flood Warning for Cook County, along with Flood Advisory for Cook, Lake and DuPage counties.

The NASCAR XFinity Series raced in The Loop 121 on Saturday at 4 p.m. 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 and was declared the winner of the race by NASCAR.

"Definitely the most awkward win I've been a part of, because you're so disconnected from the race. We raced 24 hours ago," Custer said.

NASCAR issued a statement about their schedule changes, saying, "With standing water and flooding a significant issue at the racetrack and throughout the city, there was no option to return to racing prior to shifting to NASCAR Cup Series race operations. Throughout the entire planning process for the Chicago Street Race, our relationship with the City of Chicago has been strong and among the most valuable assets in reaching this historic weekend. In the spirit of that partnership, returning on Monday for the completion of a NASCAR Xfinity Series event two laps short of halfway was an option we chose not to employ. Based on several unprecedented circumstances, NASCAR has made the decision to declare Cole Custer the winner of the race."

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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.

Fans were left disappointed by the delay on Saturday.

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

The weather also canceled The Chainsmokers concert, which was supposed to go on after the race.

"We did miss The Chainsmokers. She was right up front when they made us leave. It's OK though," said Rich and Debbie Stroes.

That concert 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 said on Saturday.

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NASCAR released a statement on Saturday, 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."

Sunday's concert lineup has also been canceled due to flooding in Lower Hutchinson Field, NASCAR announced. Charley Crockett and Miranda Lambert were originally set to perform Sunday afternoon. It is currently unknown if they will be rescheduled.

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," April Chambers said. "We came because of Bubba Wallace. He had an event at DuSable, so that's why we're here."

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General admission tickets started at $269.