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Everything That Happened in the Cup Race at Chicago

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What’s Happening?

For the second time in Cup Series history, the stars of the sport took to the streets of Chicago on the 4th of July weekend! Despite pushback from some, the hype for the Chicago Street Race was as high as last year, and with the threat of historic rain out of the picture, fans were in for a show unlike any other. Shane van Gisbergen returns to the scene of his historic win after outdueling Kyle Larson in yesterday’s Xfinity Series race. Will we see Yung Money vs. SVG Part 2? Or will a new face take over the streets and claim victory? Let’s take a look.

You Need to Know:

  • Kyle Larson started on the pole for the race and, as he is every week, was one of the favorites to take the win. In addition to Larson, SVG showed great speed in practice and qualified inside the top five. These two were the class of the field in yesterday’s Xfinity Series race, dueling throughout the entire afternoon, with SVG coming out on top.
  • For the second-straight year, weather would play a role in Chicago, although nowhere to the levels of last year. This was the third race in a row where rain followed the Cup Series, though while the race was shortly delayed
  • Fans have warmed up to the idea of racing on the streets of Chicago. And with many of the Chicago crowd attending their first race, we were in for a treat in the Windy City.

The Format

Per Bob Pockrass of FOX Sports, this was a 75 lap race. The stage breakdown is listed below:

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  • Stage 1: Laps 1-20 (20 Laps)
  • Stage 2: Laps 21-45 (25 Laps)
  • Stage 3: Laps 46-75 (30 Laps)

Teams had six sets of tires to work with over the course of 75 laps. Last year, the race was scheduled for 100 laps but was shortened to 75 due to darkness. Rain tires were available for the street race if needed. The fuel window was around 35–38, meaning a one-stop strategy on fuel was a realistic possibility if the tires held on.

Nine cars started at the rear. The list is as follows

  • Ryan Blaney (suspension)
  • William Byron (steering)
  • Harrison Burton (damage repair)
  • Brad Keselowski (damage)
  • Josh Berry (damage)
  • Corey LaJoie (damage)
  • Erik Jones (mechanical repair)
  • Chris Buescher (suspension)
  • Josh Bilicki (3x tech fail and pass-through)

The Ringers

Three road-course ringers were in the field for the Grant Park 165. Stage 60 from Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing made its return, with Joey Hand behind the wheel. The trio included:

  • Shane van Gisbergen (Kaulig No. 16/2023 winner)
  • AJ Allmendinger (Kaulig No. 13)
  • Joey Hand (RFK No. 60)

The Delay

The race experienced a short delay due to the weather hitting the street course. The covers came on the cars just as the engines were about to fire for the start. Rain arrived but didn’t leave much water on the track, presenting a unique situation as to whether teams started on the slick tires or on the wet weather tires. NASCAR allowed teams to have one lap behind the pace car to judge the conditions themselves. The majority of the field chose slick tires, with some, such as the Penske brigade, going with the wet weather tires.

During the caution flag in Stage 1, NASCAR announced that the race would conclude at 9:20 p.m. ET if they cannot reach the advertised distance.

SVG Takes Stage 1

The race’s inaugural winner picked up right where he left off. Starting in P5, SVG quickly worked his way into the top three before challenging the Toyota duo of Christopher Bell and Ty Gibbs. Gisbergen found himself in second when cars on wet weather tires quickly fell in danger of going a lap down. With lapped traffic in view, SVG took advantage and claimed the lead over Gibbs, with Bell right behind him.

Bell stayed glued to the back of the No. 16 Camaro, taking a few looks at the lead with less than five laps to go in the stage. He would have had a shot at the stage win, but the caution came out with four laps to go after Corey LaJoie went spinning.

As the field paced under yellow, rain returned to the street course. With a handful of laps left, NASCAR elected to finish the stage under the caution flag, then reopen pit road after its conclusion. SVG paced the field to the green-and-white checkered for his first career stage win, continuing his weekend dominance.

Pit Road Congestion

NASCAR brought out the jet dryers to remove standing water on the street course. The dryers came on the track just as the field was coming off of pit road, forcing the leaders to hit the brakes. Tyler Reddick got squeezed between Alex Bowman and the tire barrier and hit the brakes, causing more congestion and causing his teammate Bubba Wallace to hit his left rear bumper. No visible damage was seen on the 23XI duo, and the field quickly dissipated back onto the track.

Stage 2 Shenanigans

With rain in the equation, the start of Stage 2 was wild to say the least. Bell nearly wiped out coming to the green flag, as the field tip-toed around the tricky conditions. Mayhem continued as Wallace spun in Turn 2 with the field passing him by. Wallace was running top-five before getting clipped by Bowman, sending him spinning and catching Daniel Suarez as well.

The caution would finally come out when Chase Briscoe slammed the tire barrier in Turn 6. Briscoe lost traction and couldn’t get the car stopped in time, but was able to continue. The same could not be said for SVG, who got clipped by Briscoe and hit the barrier, ending his day. SVG was just an innocent bystander, but ended the race behind the garage.

With the rain getting stronger and visibility getting worse, NASCAR brought the cars onto pit road and brought out the red flag on lap 26. This marked the third week in a row where NASCAR had to throw the red flag due to rain.

At 7:30 p.m. ET, NASCAR brought the drivers back to their cars after the heavy rain finally left the track. Just as the engines were re-fired, a cell of rain appeared over the track, causing NASCAR to postpone the end of the race once again. Finally, after hours of delays, the engines were fired at 8:05 p.m. ET, with one hour and 15 minutes until the time limit was reached.

The race resumed just an hour before the 9:20 time limit, but it didn’t take long before the next incident came up. Denny Hamlin and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. both hit the tire barrier in Turn 6. Hamlin locked the rear wheels, with Stenhouse just an innocent bystander in the accident. The race stayed green as both drivers continued.

Larson was racing for second against Ty Gibbs, but he misjudged the Turn 6 breaking zone and went head-on into the tire barrier, bringing out the caution. The replay shows that Larson divebombed the barrier while barely clipping the back of Gibbs’ car. The No. 5 sustained major damage, which was too much for Larson to continue. Just like that, the two favorites, Larson and SVG, were out of the race.

Nine laps to go in Stage 2, the Stewart-Haas duo of Josh Berry and Briscoe slammed the tire barrier. Both drivers continued and the race stayed green. On the restart, the top six of Bell, Gibbs, Todd Gilliland, John Hunter Nemecheck, Reddick and Chastain pulled away from the field to settle the stage among themselves.

With less than four laps to go, the back of the field came onto pit road to put on slick tires. The leaders stayed out on the race track but came onto pit road with three laps to go in the stage. Bell struggled to work the slicks around the track as the lapped cars around him were still running the wet weather tires. After rain delays, cars losing control, and different strategies, it would be Stage 60 driver Joey Hand who took the stage win by half a car length over Bowman.

The Race Against the Clock

The race would not reach the scheduled 75 laps. The end of Stage 2 left less than 30 minutes until the clock expired for the race. To say the race would end in a sprint would be an understatement. Hand, Bowman, Keselowski, and others stayed out to finish the race on the wet weather tires. With less than 20 minutes to go in the race, the green flag flew to finish the race.

Hand vs. Bowman. That was the battle for the win. The No. 48 stayed glued to the No. 60 back bumper for multiple laps, but finally got by with less than 13 minutes to go. In a familiar sight for the afternoon, Berry slammed the tire barrier but for the first time brought out the caution. It’s fair to say Bowman timed his pass on Hand to perfection.

Alex Bowman Returns to Victory Lane with Chicago Win

Bowman led his first laps since Bristol back in March. He made the pass on Joey Hand but now had a new challenger, Bell, with the slick tires as the preferred tire. With less than five minutes to go, Bowman had one job: get away from the field and pull away. As the minutes clicked away, he gapped himself from Hand and gained a break in Bell, getting hooked by a sideways Martin Truex Jr. to take him out of contention. Chaos behind the No. 48, but all Bowman was looking for was the checkered flag.

Bowman had to hold off Reddick. Reddick had slick tires and was over two seconds faster than Bowman. As the white flag flew, the Reddick overdrove the car and hit the wall in Turn 5, putting any threat to rest. For the first time in 80 races, and for the first time since Las Vegas in spring 2022, Alex Bowman won a Cup Series race. He celebrated his win by hitting the inside wall, trying to do a burnout following taking the checkered flag. During his victory lap, Wallace door slammed the No. 48 after he spun out the No. 23 earlier in the race. Bowman apologized in his interview.

Conclusion

That does it for our coverage of the NASCAR Cup Series race at Chicago. What did you think DailyDownforce readers? Are you sick of the rain? Are you happy for Bowman ending his 80-race winless streak? Let us know all your thoughts and concerns by commenting on all our social media platforms. Be sure to stay up to date with DailyDownforce.com for all the latest news, fan discussions and more going on in the world of NASCAR!

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