Notes of Interest

● The Grant Park 165 on the streets of downtown Chicago will be just the second go-around on a street-course in the NASCAR Cup Series’ 76-year history. Drivers will speed past some of the city’s most renowned landmarks, from Michigan Avenue to South Lake Shore Drive, with the start-finish line near Buckingham Fountain.

● Qualifying for the Grant Park 220 takes place on Saturday, and it’s where Sunday’s 75-lap race around the 2.2-mile, 12-turn temporary street circuit could very well be won. Track position will be paramount, as those starting up front are far more likely to stay up front.

● The Grant Park 165 Sunday on the streets of downtown Chicago is the third of five road-course races on the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series schedule. Martin Truex Jr., driver of the No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota Camry XSE for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), finished 10th in the series’ first road-course race of the year March 24 at Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas. He then placed 27th in the series’ second road-course stop June 9 at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway after running out of gas on the last lap while running in second place. After Chicago, the next road-course race is Sept. 15 at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International, with the final road-course race coming Oct. 12 at the Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway Roval.

● Where We Stand: The New Jersey native sits fifth in the driver standings with 591 points, 73 behind leader Kyle Larson. All four JGR entries are currently inside the top-10 in the standings, with Denny Hamlin third, Christopher Bell sixth and Ty Gibbs 10th as the series heads to the Windy City this weekend.

● Road-Course Ace: Truex has five road-course victories in his Cup Series career – four at Sonoma and one at Watkins Glen. He has a total of 14 career top-five finishes, 25 top-10s and 356 laps led in 54 career road-course races.

● Looking for 35: Truex’s win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon in July 2023 was his most recent Cup Series win, the 34th of his career, tying him with 2004 champion Kurt Busch for 25th on the all-time Cup Series win list.

● Ahead at this Stage: Truex has accumulated 63 stage wins since the beginning of the stage era in 2017. He is the only driver with 10 or more stage sweeps, with his latest sweep coming at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn last August. Truex scored his second stage win of the season at Dover (Del.) Motor Speedway in April, leading the field across the line at the end of Stage 1.

Martin Truex Jr., Driver of the No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota Camry XSE

Did you enjoy racing in the rain in Chicago last year?

“For whatever reason, I did a lot better racing in the wet than I did in the dry last year. That’s kind of odd because most guys like the dry better. It was a unique experience and I’m glad we got to race at a street course at some point in my career. For the fans, though, it would be fun to see it without the rain and have everyone enjoy the weekend without the historic rain. It’s neat just to be able to walk to the racetrack from the hotel we stayed at. Just things that you don’t do normally and, of course, the crowd was great, too, and I expect the fans to be excited again this year.”

What is the first thing that goes through your head when you think about heading back to Chicago and the street-course race this weekend?

“We really didn’t get to run the race straight up last year, so I still think it has a chance to be really crazy even if it’s dry. It’s going to be fun, though, to get to do something that’s still fairly new. Every time they’ve brought in something new the last several years, we all have been apprehensive. Just saying, ‘I don’t know about this,’ and then we do it and it’s turned out to be pretty cool. Just trying to stay open-minded and just trying to look forward to the challenge. It’s a difficult track, but that’s what makes it fun and I think it worked out better than we all expected last year.” Hoping we qualify our Bass Pro Shops Camry up front, stay there, and have a shot in the end.”

Do you look at the Chicago Street Race sort of like the Roval, then, with you being apprehensive at first, but maybe had more fun once you did it a couple of times and knew what you needed to do?

“I think so. I can remember I was one of the first guys to test the Roval before there were any curves. It was just the infield road course with grass all around. I was thinking that was too small and narrow and how are we going to race on this thing? As it turned out, it was quite the show. Like I said, you have to be open-minded and embrace the challenges and try to do what you can with it.”

What do you think of the concept of racing in Chicago now for the second time and continuing to expose new fans to the sport?

“I think it’s a good idea. I can’t even imagine what goes into it. On the race fan side, it seems like was really cool last year once the weather cleared, I know that was a big challenge for everyone last year with how much it rained during the weekend. Hopefully it continues to be a good turnout and it goes off well and weather isn’t an issue this time. I enjoy tracks that are unique and challenging and it’s always a good challenge to keep learning the place and hoping to have a whole weekend where we are just battling how to make our car better and the fans have a good time.”

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