TEAM CHEVY NASCAR RACE ADVANCE: Chicago Street Race

MAKING HISTORY

As the celebration of NASCAR’s 75th anniversary season continues, two of NASCAR’s top series are on the horizon of a history-making weekend as the NASCAR Cup Series (NCS) and NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) will compete in its first-ever street race. The 2.2-mile, 12-turn Chicago Street Course is built among some of the city’s most renowned landmarks – from driving on the famed streets of Lake Shore Drive and Michigan Avenue, to the start-finish line at the Buckingham Fountain.

 

NASCAR’s last appearance in the Chicago area took place in 2019 when all three NASCAR national series competed at Chicagoland Speedway. Situated approximately 45 miles outside of downtown Chicago, Chevrolet took the track’s last trophy in both the NCS (Alex Bowman) and the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (Brett Moffitt).

 

NASCAR’s partner OEMs – Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota –will help commemorate the unprecedented weekend as the official pace cars for the Chicago Street Race, with the lineup including the 2023 Camaro ZL1. The OEM that claims the NCS pole position will pace the field to the green flag in each race, with each restart featuring a rotation among the series’ three OEM pace vehicles.  

FINDING SUCCESS ON NEW TRACKS

A part of NASCAR’s continuing evolution includes the debut of new venues on the series’ schedules. From road course circuits, to an intermediate-style oval and even a short-track turned to dirt – seven different tracks have welcomed NASCAR’s premier series for the first time since the beginning of the 2020 season with Team Chevy drivers recording wins in four of those inaugural events: 

 

Chase Elliott, No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 

Daytona International Speedway Road Course

August 16, 2020

 

Chase Elliott, No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet

Circuit of The Americas

May 23, 2021

 

Kyle Larson, No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet

Nashville Superspeedway

June 20, 2021

 

AJ Allmendinger, No. 16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course

August 15, 2021

VAN GISBERGEN SET TO REPRESENT NEXT TEAM CHEVY CROSSOVER

The 2023 season has seen world-class drivers from series that compete across the world take on the NASCAR national ranks for the first time in their storied careers. The next driver that will be added to that elite list is three-time Supercar Champion Shane van Gisbergen, who is slated to make his first career NASCAR Cup Series start behind the wheel of the No. 91 Trackhouse Racing Camaro ZL1 at the Chicago Street Race.

 

The Auckland, New Zealand, native has a strong resume in the seat of a Chevrolet-powered machine – competing in the Supercars Championship for the Triple Eight Racing Engineering No. 97 Camaro ZL1 team. Van Gisbergen is the fourth-most successful driver in the series – collecting 78 career wins and three championship titles (2016, 2021 & 2022). The Chevrolet driver has also previously competed in the United States in the past – recording a second-place finish in the 2015 24 Hours of Daytona in the GTD class.

 

Van Gisbergen is part of an elite group of Chevrolet drivers that have recently made the crossover into the NASCAR national ranks. In just this season alone, this will mark the third different series in which Chevrolet actively competes in that will be represented in NCS competition – joining Jordan Taylor (IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship for Corvette Racing) and Conor Day (NTT INDYCAR Series). 

MARKS TO MAKE NXS RETURN

Trackhouse Racing’s Founder and Owner Justin Marks will make his return to the NASCAR Xfinity Series for the first time since 2018 – taking over the driving duties for the No. 10 Kaulig Racing Camaro SS for the series’ inaugural street race. In 35 career NXS starts, Marks has recorded one win, three top-fives and seven top-10s – all of which have been recorded on a road course circuit. His diversified racing resume also includes a strong background in sports car racing – earning wins in both the Rolex Grand-Am Sports Car Series and the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Series.

 

Marks will be the eighth different driver to get behind the wheel of Kaulig Racing’s “All-Star” NXS entry this season, joining fellow Team Chevy drivers Kyle Busch, Austin Dillon, Derek Kraus, AJ Allmendinger, Justin Haley, Kyle Larson and Jordan Taylor. The No. 10 Camaro SS has been no stranger to victory lane this season with Allmendinger and Larson earning a combined three triumphs for the team – one of which came in the series’ most recent race at Nashville Superspeedway. 

MAKING LEFT- AND RIGHT- TURNS

While this weekend will mark the first-ever street course race for NASCAR’s premier division, the sport’s road course ringers head into the weekend tapped as the early favorites to navigate the left- and right-hand turns to victory lane. Team Chevy features a powerhouse driver lineup that have found success on the series’ road course circuits. Of the 13 active NASCAR Cup Series road course winners, six come from the Chevrolet camp.

 

Topping the list is Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott with seven career road course victories in NASCAR’s premier series. The 27-year-old Georgia native also ranks third on the NCS’ all-time road course wins list behind NASCAR Hall of Famers Jeff Gordon (nine) and Tony Stewart (eight). Joining Elliott on the list is Kyle Busch (four), Kyle Larson (four), AJ Allmendinger (two), Daniel Suarez (one) and Ross Chastain (one).

 

Chevrolet has made its way to victory lane in 15 of the past 19 NCS road course events – dating back to Elliott’s victory at Watkins Glen International in August 2019. Within that time span, the manufacturer notched a streak of 11 consecutive road course wins in the series – a run that started with Elliott’s victory in NASCAR’s debut at Circuit of The Americas in May 2021.

BOWTIE BULLETS:

·       Chevrolet is the only manufacturer to record a sweep of the weekend’s wins when all three NASCAR national series are in competition on the same weekend. The feat was most recently accomplished at Nashville Superspeedway – marking the manufacturer’s fourth tripleheader sweep of the season.

 

·       Only four drivers in the NASCAR Cup Series are repeat winners this season – three of which come from Team Chevy (William Byron – Las Vegas, Phoenix & Darlington; Kyle Larson – Richmond & Martinsville; Kyle Busch – Auto Club and Talladega). Byron and Busch are tied atop the leaderboard with three wins each.

 

·       In 17 points-paying NASCAR Cup Series race this season, Chevrolet continues to lead the series in wins (10), top-fives (38), top-10s (75), stage wins (17) and laps led (2,163).

 

·       Chevrolet leads the series in wins across all three NASCAR national series this season with 10 victories in 17 NASCAR Cup Series races, nine victories in 15 NASCAR Xfinity Series races and eight wins in 13 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races – all with a win percentage of more than 50%.

 

·       With Grant Enfinger’s NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series win at World Wide Technology Raceway, GMS Racing is now the winningest Chevrolet organization in NCTS’ history with 44 all-time wins in the series.

 

·       With William Byron’s win at Darlington Raceway, Hendrick Motorsports now sits at 296 all-time NASCAR Cup Series victories – all recorded with Chevrolet.

 

·       Chevrolet’s series-leading 10 NASCAR Cup Series wins this season have been recorded by drivers from four different Chevrolet teams: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (JTG Daugherty Racing), Kyle Busch (Richard Childress Racing), William Byron and Kyle Larson (Hendrick Motorsports) and Ross Chastain (Trackhouse Racing).

 

·       Chevrolet drivers have recorded 17 of the 34 NASCAR Cup Series stage wins this season: William Byron (seven; series-leading), Ross Chastain (five), Kyle Larson (two), Kyle Busch (two) and Chase Elliott (one).

 

·       Chevrolet continues to sit atop the manufacturer points standings in all three NASCAR national series, leading by 44 points in the NASCAR Cup Series, 56 points in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and 38 points in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.

 

·       With its 41 NASCAR Cup Series Manufacturer’s Championships, 33 NASCAR Cup Series Driver’s Championships, and 843 all-time NASCAR Cup Series wins, Chevrolet continues to hold the title of winningest brand in NASCAR Cup Series history.  

FOR THE FANS

·       Fans can visit the Team Chevy Racing Display in the Fan Plaza at the Chicago Street Course. 

·       Fans can check out an assortment of Chevrolet vehicles including: Camaro ZL1, Trax, Silverado ZR2, Equinox RS, Blazer RS, Tahoe RST, Colorado Z71, Bolt EUV Premier RS.

·       Fans can also view Chase Elliott’s No. 9 Camaro ZL1 show car and the Corvette E-Ray.

 

Team Chevy Driver Appearances at the Display:

Sunday, July 2

·       Ross Chastain: 1:15 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.

·       Alex Bowman: 1:30 p.m. – 1:45 p.m.

·       Justin Haley: 1:45 p.m. – 2 p.m.

·       Kyle Busch: 2 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.

 

Chevrolet Display Hours of Operation: 

·       Saturday, July 1: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.

·       Sunday, July 2: 9 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.  

TUNE IN:

NASCAR Cup Series: Grant Park 220  

Sunday, July 2, at 5:30 p.m. ET

(NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90)

 

NASCAR Xfinity Series: The Loop 121 

Saturday, July 1, at 5 p.m. ET

(USA Network, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90)

QUOTABLE QUOTES:

ROSS CHASTAIN, NO. 1 ADVENTHEALTH CAMARO ZL1

For a watermelon farmer, what’s it going to be like to drive through the city of Chicago in a race car?

“It’s going to be new, it’s totally different. Not like the roads in Alva, for sure. It’s a way to move the needle with our sport. I think over three-quarters of the tickets already sold are new fans, and I’m sure a lot of people are just going to walk-up when they hear the engines fire up. I think there’s signs all over town so they’ll at least know about it. And then when we go roaring down through there, there are going to be so many new fans. I’m bought-in. It doesn’t matter, for me, how my personal race goes or my weekend goes. I could very easily drive it into the tire barriers about every corner if I’m not careful. I’ve done that on the simulator quite a bit. You make the brake zone by just a few feet and there’s no run-off. Yes, I want points and I want to win, but I’m more looking at it from the big picture of us as a whole and if it elevates all of us, it’ll pay off for me in the long run.”

 

Can you give us a sense of perspective on Chicago? You’re going to have 50 minutes of practice, but a lot of people expect that there will be multiple cautions potentially in the practice session. When you get in the car for track activity at Chicago, how nerve racking is it?

“That’s NASCAR racing, that’s every week. That’s what’s so cool about this series and this level is that there’s so much pressure involved with everything. I do wish that we did focus more on the cool factor of driving the car and how on-edge we are. You’ve seen a champion of our sport spin out in practice. If you watch the in-car, it looks innocent all the way to the point that it snaps. We’re all on that edge and we’re fighting that every lap. We have no idea at Chicago. They’ve repaved some, but we’ve all driven on repaved roads – sometimes it’s worse than it used to be. So I have no idea what to expect, but yeah when we go out, it’s going to be who can learn the fastest. We’re all logging laps in our simulators, but until you actually get on the surface – we don’t even have the most accurate renderings in for the walls because it’s going to be evolving as they put them in. A big ask of the operations team building the track because they’re just figuring it out as they go.”

 

 

KYLE LARSON, NO. 5 HENDRICKCARS.COM CAMARO ZL1

Larson on racing at the Chicago Street Course:

“I don’t know how it’s going to race, but I think it’s going to be a great thing for our sport. It will be cool to be able to race right in the middle of a major city. Without having been there yet, it’s difficult to be able to judge the race track itself but it will be a great opportunity to bring our race into the urban areas of Chicago. It (Chicago) is such an awesome city. It should be a good time. I look forward to that event probably the most.”

 

 

CLIFF DANIELS, CREW CHIEF, NO. 5 HENDRICKCARS.COM CAMARO ZL1

Daniels on racing at the Chicago Street Course:

“There are a lot of unknowns going into this weekend. I certainly think it’s going to be a great event. In regard to the track itself, it’s really wild how far technology has come. The track scans that we get from NASCAR, OEM, DIL’s, the driver simulators, etc. It’s amazing that we are running the actual street course in the simulator, and one doesn’t even exist yet. The streets of Chicago are still open, business is still running as usual, and we won’t even have a race track until Friday night. The fact that we are able to do that speaks volumes to where technology is in the sport. We certainly have tried to anticipate what to look for and what the track is going to provide. Going into the weekend there could be some scenarios where there is excitement about what is going on on-track and hopefully we are on the better end of those things and just have a clean race. If we do that, we should be in good shape by the end of it.”

 

 

KYLE BUSCH, NO. 8 3CHI CAMARO ZL1

How important is it for NASCAR as a sport to be able to race on the streets of a major city like Chicago?

“I feel like the Chicago street race is a really cool opportunity. It’s going to be a challenge for sure so it will definitely be an interesting race. I’m curious to kind of see the layout and how it all really works. At the same time, it’s going to be a great venue for the city of Chicago and for NASCAR. They’re really making a big weekend out of it so it should be a good time. It might not be the most fun race that we do, just with the technicality of the racecourse and how narrow it is and street racing with big, heavy stock cars.”

 

Will the Chicago street race be the most challenging Cup race that you’ve ever competed in?

“I believe the Chicago street race will be one of the most challenging races that Cup has ever seen for sure. Yeah, we’re racing cars that were kind of made for road racing, but they’re still 3,600 pounds and big, heavy stock cars and we’re trying to run them on streets and rough streets at that. Really tight, 90-degree corners so everything is going to be super, super close action, tight quarters, bumping and banging and probably hitting some barriers here and there. It’s going to be a heck of a show and a very interesting one at that, especially being the first time with nobody really knowing what to expect.”

 

Qualifying and track position are important at every race, but will that be even more so at the street race?

“I do believe that track position and qualifying will be very important. I don’t know about pit selection but you can say that number one pit box is typically the best, so you always want to get that or even an opening out. But with road course racing you typically don’t pit as a field, although the street race could have a lot of cautions and could lend itself to being a lot of traffic on pit road. It’s going to be an interesting one for sure.”

 

 

CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 9 HOOTERS CAMARO ZL1

Elliott on how he views the Chicago Street Course from an event perspective:

“That’s a good question. I think it depends on which hat you’re wearing. If you’re wearing a competitor’s hat – for me, it’s us going up there and trying to put ourselves in position to win. From a fan standpoint, you’re tapping into a part of the country that I think has a lot of race fans, a lot of NASCAR fans, but into city limits that a lot of those people might not have typically come out to Joliet or somewhere up there. For them, I think it’s about it being a good event and it being exciting for them. There’s a lot of stuff going on for them and they feel like they’re at the event. That needs to feel like the event that weekend over a (Chicago) Cubs game or whatever it may be. I think that will make it successful from a promoter’s standpoint. From the racing side, I don’t think I have to leave the racetrack and think – oh wow, that was a really great race for it to be successful to the viewership or the people that show up in attendance.”

 

 

ALAN GUSTAFSON, CREW CHIEF, NO. 9 HOOTERS CAMARO ZL1

Gustafson on how experience plays a role in preparing for the Chicago Street Course:

“I don’t think you can comment too much about it as far as the competition side goes because you just don’t know. You want versatility but with the format, you don’t have the opportunity to really adjust. You just have to try and find places and corners from different tracks that you think may apply. You use that information to try and put it together and have something reasonable to go there and run with. It’s just super hard to do anything besides lean on some of your experience and some tracks that have similar styles of corners.”

 

 

AJ ALLMENDINGER, NO. 16 BATH PLANT BY BCI ACRYLICS CAMARO ZL1

“Chicago is going to be very interesting. A street course takes me back to my roots of racing open wheel and being at a lot of different street courses. I think it’s a venue that, if it’s put on right, we can have a great weekend there as an industry. It’s a racetrack that a small mistake can have a huge penalty when it’s that narrow and surrounded by concrete walls. Anything can happen and we’re not really sure what to expect. Street racing is some of the most fun I’ve had racing in my life so I’m looking forward to getting to Chicago and trying it out in a Cup car.”

 

 

JUSTIN HALEY, NO. 31 BENESCH LAW CAMARO ZL1

“There’s a lot of excitement as well as unknowns about Chicago. We’ve only seen virtual renderings of the street course, and it looks like it’s going to be a fun race. There will be a lot of entertainment and value brought to the fans so cool to get the market back to the Chicago area. It’s going to be something new, and it’s always an honor to be a part of events like that.”

 

 

ERIK JONES, NO. 43 DRAIVER CAMARO ZL1

“I think the Chicago Street Race is going to be unique and different. Obviously, it’s the first street course ever in NASCAR and the first street course that I have personally raced on. I believe it will be a learning experience for most drivers. I don’t think there are many in the field who have done any street course racing, except for a few. So, it will be a new experience for most of us. I’m really excited to get out there and see this project come to life. I know it has been a long time coming, and it will be great for the fans. We should be able to carry over our momentum from last week and be in the running for a decent finish if we can secure track position early on. I am definitely looking forward to this weekend and putting on a good show for our new partner, Draiver.”

 

 

RICKY STENHOUSE JR., NO. 47 MARIANO’S/SUNNYD CAMARO ZL1

“I did some SIM work this past week and the track was really fun to drive. I had a lot of fun doing that. With that being said, I’m not sure not sure how it is going to race. There were some tricky parts to it. A lot of the corners being 90 degrees with the walls the way they are, it’s hard to see the exit of the corner. That’s going to be tricky and it’s super important for our spotters to give us a heads up if there is chaos on the other side of the corner. NASCAR, Chicago they are doing a lot of hard work for that weekend. Everything I’ve seen so far is going to be cool and I’m sure the race will be spectacular at times.”

 

 

ALEX BOWMAN, NO. 48 ALLY CAMARO ZL1

Bowman on going to the Chicago Street Course for the first time:

“I think it will be interesting. We have experience on road courses, but nothing as tight and technical as Chicago. I think track position will be key this weekend, so we will do all we can in the simulators to get a feel for what we think we need, use our notes from road courses and go try to compete this Sunday.”

 

 

BLAKE HARRIS, CREW CHIEF, NO. 48 ALLY CAMARO ZL1

Harris on preparing for a new track:

“There’s a lot of variables – you have to be prepared for everything. Unfortunately, it’s an impound practice and qualifying so you are kind of locked in with what you have. We have a lot of good details and information in our notebooks for road course stuff, so it’s really just trying to pick and choose what is going to be most applicable to this race.”

 

 

SHANE VAN GISBERGEN, NO. 91 ENHANCE HEALTH CAMARO ZL1

How does someone who spends most of their life in New Zealand and Australia first develop an interest in NASCAR?

“Yeah, it’s on every Monday there. It’s funny.. I was a big Tony Stewart fan when he was racing, and then of course Darian (Grubb) was his crew chief. So now getting to work with him is very cool and getting to know him. But yeah, the last few years, still kept in touch. Then of course with the opportunity this year, I’ve been watching most races trying to study. Always been a fan of it, so to get to jump straight into the Cup Series is pretty exciting.”

 

What’s kind of stood out to you about this car that is different?

“Yeah, well the first thing is sitting on the other side of the car is tough. And then climbing through the window (laughs).. I’ve never done that before. Yeah, it’s quite different. But the technical side of things is pretty similar in the way the car is built. A big, heavy car. A lot of horsepower. It’s similar to what we have. It looks difficult. I’m going to find out tomorrow what it’s like at Charlotte (Motor Speedway) – I get a small run. But yeah, I’m just looking forward to it. I’m trying to keep my eyes open – try to learn this week and try to not have too many expectations about the street circuit. It looks so different to what NASCAR has done before. When you watch the COTA race and how crazy that was, it was a bit eye-opening. But I hope it’s not like that at Chicago.. that’d be crazy.”

 

What are your realistic expectations for the Chicago Street Race?

“Well I don’t really have anything, results-wise. I just want to do my best. I’ve prepared as well as I can, and I know the Trackhouse team runs some awesome cars. Meeting everyone and seeing how motivated they are. They’re nothing wrong with the equipment and the preparation. So yeah, I have no expectations, results-wise, but if I’m prepared the best I can be, we can achieve anything.”

 

You’re one of the most diverse drivers on the planet. Are you going to try to twist his arm for an oval track race?

“We had a small chat about that earlier. I’ve never really thought about ovals too much, but yeah you’d love to have a go at it. Like watching yesterday and how committed the guys were in qualifying – they had the practice and then you sit around all day and you get one lap. To see how committed everyone was and see who was braver than the others into turn one, it was pretty cool to watch. It sucked watching, I wanted to be out there. So, yeah I’d want to have a go at it one day.”

 

Is this something that if it goes well, you’d come to America and race whether it’s here or INDYCAR?

“I think all of the above. It was a pretty exciting opportunity. I love Supercars and what I’m doing now, but starting to speak to Justin (Marks) about it last year and this year obviously sparked my interest in doing other things. I really just want to see how it goes. I haven’t been to America since before COVID time, so to be able to travel now and experience things again – yeah, we’ll see how it goes and maybe it will lead to more.”

 

 

DANIEL SUAREZ, NO. 99 WORLDWIDE EXPRESS CAMARO ZL1

What do you think about the Chicago Street Race?

“I think it is going to be one of the greatest events in NASCAR’s 75-year history! Nobody knows how the racing will turn out, but as an event I think it is going to be incredible. We just need to get time on the track and we’ll see how the race plays out. I suspect it’s going to be pretty crazy which the fans usually love.”

 

What do you think of street racing?

“I have a friend who said it best. Instead of the fans coming to the track, at a street race the track comes to the fans. I went to Detroit a few weeks ago and made laps around the street course there. It’s no different for a driver. You start thinking where can I get better, where can I make up some lap times, improve my line. Trust me as race car drivers we are going to race as hard here as on any oval.”

 

Are you excited about Shane van Gisbergen joining Trackhouse at Chicago?

“Yes, Shane is a very nice guy and a heck of a race car driver. He was with us in Nashville last weekend. He has a lot to learn, but he is very talented. He is going to spend a lot of time on the simulator this week. He has more experience on street courses than probably the entire starting field of Sunday’s race.”

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