GRANT PARK — NASCAR’s main event in the Chicago Street Race got underway Sunday afternoon, after heavy rain delayed action more than an hour and forced the cancellation of the rest of the day’s schedule.
The NASCAR Cup Series, originally scheduled to start 4:05 p.m., kicked off a little after 5:30 p.m. The race initially planned 100 laps around the 2.2-mile course. Because of the delay and approaching sunset, the race was shortened to 78 laps.
The event grounds were mostly empty up until the start of the race, but some fans braved the elements to come hang out at the event grounds. As the race got started, fans lined up around the course and filled the stands. Many cheered when the race finally started.
Chicagoans Angelica Alvarado and Jordan Hallmark had been at the race since the gates opened Sunday morning. Completely soaked, the couple said they spent a long time looking for their seats in the reserved section along Michigan Avenue.
Still, despite the weather, both were optimistic about being able to see the race Sunday.
“Besides for the the weather… I’m still enjoying it. It’s fun to see Chicago still out here trying to show up,” Hallmark said.
“Pretty much being here having the experience of what it would it be like, getting just the gist of it. I like it. I’m not mad about it,” Alvarado said.
Commentators for the race, airing on NBC, noted there were still puddles on parts of the track that drivers had to navigate around.
New Zealander Shane Van Gisbergen won the race in overtime. It was his first Cup Series start, according to NASCAR.
Rain Cancels Saturday’s Postponed Race
NASCAR officials declared a winner in the already-delayed Xfinity Series Loop 121 Sunday as inclement weather cut short much of the action in the long-anticipated, two-day event.
The 55-lap Xfinity race was postponed Saturday after lightning and thunderstorms hit the area. The race was about halfway through when attendees were evacuated around 5 p.m. Saturday. The Chainsmokers concert was also canceled.
NASCAR planned to resume the Xfinity race 10 a.m. Sunday.
But with the rain not letting up, race officials declared Cole Custer the winner of the Xfinity race around 12:30 p.m. Sunday, citing “unprecedented circumstances.
NASCAR officials said in the statement that resuming the Xfinity race Monday “two laps short of halfway was an option we chose not to employ.”
“With standing water and flooding a significant issue at the racetrack and throughout the city, there was no option to return to racing prior to shifting to NASCAR Cup Series race operations,” the NASCAR statement read.
Custer was in the lead when the race was halted Saturday.
“It’s like such an awkward moment because we were just waiting around, it’s like how excited can you be because it didn’t feel like we did anything today. But it’s still really cool feeling that we came out on top … but definitely one of the weirdest wins,” Custer said.
Still, Custer said he was impressed with the track and is looking forward to possibly coming back next year for another Chicago Street Race.
“I’m pumped about coming back here and I think the whole city did a great job with it. It’s a cool event,” Custer said.
Officials also canceled Sunday’s concerts featuring Miranda Lambert and Charley Crockett.
The Cup Series race, had been in a “holding pattern” because of the weather. The National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning in effect until 6:30 p.m. Sunday.
Drivers were called back to their cars and pit crews started removing car covers around 5 p.m. to start the race.
Here’s more from the scene Sunday:
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