As NASCAR’s Cup Series heads into its first street-course race, in Chicago, Harrison Burton, crew chief Brian Wilson and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane crew are working to identify and address the challenges posed by the 12-turn, 2.2-milecourse through the streets of the Windy City.
“It is certainly an exciting and unprecedented race,” Wilson said. “This has a feel like the week prior to the first race at the L.A. Coliseum. There were so many unknowns then, just as there are now.
“The one known aspect that is similar to the Clash is that we’re taking our racing product into a city market that we haven’t been to before.
“I’m sure we’ll put on an entertaining show that will attract new fans.”
The Motorcraft/Quick Lane team, like other members of the Blue Oval contingent, is taking advantage of the resources offered by their manufacturer as they prepare for Sunday’s Grant Park 220.
“Through Ford we’ve been making laps around the track on the simulator at the Ford Performance Tech Center,” Wilson said. “At the moment the track looks extremely bumpy. There have been some sections repaved, so we’ll be ready to react once we see how the course is.
“As we’ve been preparing, the debates have centered around which aspects will be most important - grip through the bumps, braking ability, turn in the center or drive off the corner.
Once the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team gets to the track, there will be more opportunities to tune the No. 21Mustang prior to the start of Sunday’s race.
“We have a 50-minute practice, and the discussion after the first run will be focused on deciding how to rank the priority of those aspects,” Wilson said. “Adapting and making the right adjustments will be critical in order to have a successful weekend.”
Practice for the Grant Park 220 is set for Saturday at 12:30 p.m. (1:30 p.m. Eastern Time) to be immediately followed by qualifying. USA Network will provide the TV coverage.
Sunday’s 100-lap, 220-mile race is scheduled to start just after 4:30 p.m. (5:30 Eastern), with TV coverage switching to NBC. Stage breaks are planned for Laps 20 and 45.