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Everything You Need to Know About NASCAR's Chicago Street Race

NASCAR’s epic new event weekend races into the Windy City July 1-2

By Andrew Woodin
Nascar Chicago Street Race

While the notion of a street race immediately conjures up images of Dominic Toretto’s beefy shoulders protruding from a cutoff T-shirt as he throws his signature, steely-eyed glare at any who dare challenge him or his 1970 Dodge Charger R/T, believe it or not, a competitive, legally sanctioned street race is coming to NASCAR. That’s right, you heard correctly – for the first time in the league’s 75-year history, NASCAR is revving up for its very first street race in Chicago, Illinois. Here’s everything you need to know to gear up for one of NASCAR’s biggest bets yet.

When is NASCAR's Chicago Street Race?

Touted as a boost to the city’s tourism and a true test of driver skill, the historic event will take place over the weekend of July 1-2.

How to Watch

Catch up on past episodes of Race For The Championship on Peacock

Marketed for months now, the event will see more than 100,000 eager racing fans descend upon the Windy City as they take in two races – the Xfinity Series race, called “The Loop 121” and the Cup Series race, named the “Grant Park 220.” In addition to the full-throttle action, event goers will be treated to four rocking concerts that include The Chainsmokers and The Black Crowes on Saturday, July 1 while Charley Crockett and Miranda Lambert will feature on Sunday July 2.

How can you watch NASCAR's Chicago Street Race?

Viewers can tune in from the comfort of their home as the highly-anticipated and first-ever Chicago Cup Series street race will air at 5:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, July 2, on NBC as well as Peacock.

What does the course of NASCAR’s Chicago Street Race look like?

Illustration of the Chicago Street Race Festival Map

NASCAR’s first-of-its-kind road course will provide drivers with a sampling of some of Chicago’s most iconic streets and landmarks, but also presents a myriad of unique challenges to contend with, including several 90-degree turns as well as variations in pitch and elevation that derive from it not being a purpose-built racetrack.

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The 2.2-mile circuit takes drivers from Buckingham Fountain to Grant Park on Lake Shore Drive before they pass down South Columbus Drive, Michigan Ave and up East Jackson Drive before ending back on pit road near the fan plaza. For a more in-depth view of where the drivers will be racing and what they’ll see, you can take a virtual tour of the course.

What do drivers think of the Chicago street race?

Whenever change presents itself, big or small, there will be those that embrace and those that resist it. The street race in Chicago is no different, but the looming uncertainty of racing in tight corridors on a course that wasn’t designed and engineered to host stock car racing is palpable throughout the field.

Having tested the course in iRacing in addition to examining it on the simulator, two-time Cup Series champion Kyle Busch detailed some of the course’s corners as “really, really tight,” according to Autoweek.

“You’re coming down this straightaway, and there’s another straightaway there, but the ground, the road is separated with a wall in the middle, and there’s cones that are blocking off where they don’t want you to go, so I thought that was weird,” revealed Busch. “I’m not the scientist on that. It just seemed weird when you’re coming around the corner, and you’ve got to miss the end of a wall.”

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“I think we’re all excited and we’re all really nervous at the same time,” reigning Cup Series champion Joey Logano offered, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Kevin Harvick who is set to retire after this season believes the race could go either way.

Kevin Harvick speaking into a mic

"I learned a long time ago that you just can’t predict these things,” Harvick told the Sun-Times. “This race could be the greatest race that you’ve ever seen, or it could be the worst one you’ve ever watched. I don’t think anybody really knows, but I think that’s the intrigue about the event.”

“From a driving standpoint, we all have this terrible, terrible habit of just going directly toward what could go wrong, but then we figure it all out and everything’s fine.”

While NASCAR Hall of Fame wheelman Dale Earnhardt Jr. isn’t competing in the event, he had the chance of touring the course and, while he’s aware of the challenges, he believes it marks an exciting turn for the league.

“This is fascinating,” Earnhardt stated, according to WGN9. “Never would I have thought that NASCAR would do a street course race, much less in the great city of Chicago. So, we’re excited, the course looks great. I’m just looking forward to the day we get here, and we’ve got barriers up, fences up, and cars are going around. That will be fun."