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2024 NASCAR Chicago Street Race weekend is full speed ahead Saturday for day 1; Shane van Gisbergen wins XFinity Series race

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2024 NASCAR Chicago Street Race weekend is full speed ahead Saturday for day 1; Shane van Gisbergen wins XFinity Series race


CHICAGO (WLS) — It’s full speed ahead to the start of the second NASCAR Chicago Street Race weekend.

Drivers made their way around the 2.2 mile circuit in an around Grant Park Saturday, with Shane van Gisbergen winning the XFinity Series race after winning the Cup Series last year in Chicago.

NASCAR LIVE BLOG | 2024 NASCAR Chicago Street Race: Live updates

About 2,000 concrete barriers were brought in to shape the insane street course, taking drivers on a tour throughout Chicago’s Loop.

With the iconic skyline as backdrop cars will race down major city streets like Michigan Avenue and DuSable Lake Shore Drive reaching top speeds well over 100 mph on the fast straightaways and taking tight turns around the challenging track.

The Chicago Loop Alliance is helping expand this year’s NASCAR Village.

Rundown of events:

Gates opened at 8:45 a.m.

Qualifying sessions for the Cup Series race on Sunday took place between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

The NASCAR Xfinity Series race started at 2:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon. It was a 50-lap course.

Buddy Guy performed on the DraftKings Stage from 1:15 p.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday

The Black Keys perform on the DraftKings Stage from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Saturday.

The Chainsmokers take the stage at 8 p.m. Saturday.

The Cup Series, which is a 75-lap race, will run at 3:30 p.m. Sunday.

READ MORE | 2024 NASCAR Chicago Street Race weekend schedule, live concerts and festival information

Fan race experience

With engines revving and tires squeezing, NASCAR Chicago year two got underway.

“They have it all,” NASCAR fan Jake Kern said. “They wanna make it inclusive. There’s something for everyone here.”

Longtime fans and rookies alike expressed their excitement.

“It is my first race and I’m so excited,” NASCAR rookie Kay Lewis said.

Saturday’s race, The Loop 110, is a warmup for Sunday’s main event, the NASCAR Cup Series race. With the sun shining, it is an ideal day for hitting the streets of downtown at top speeds well over 100 miles an hour.

“I think it’s great,” South Carolina NASCAR fan Ryneshia Pauling said. “Everyone coming out, and this is different for me because it’s street racing, not on a dragstrip.”

The races attracted fans from all over the country, as well as an international crowd.

“It’s wonderful,” Canadian NASCAR fan Sylvain Simard said. “The layout is wonderful. NASCAR is first class.”

While the races are the star attraction, there is so much more for fans, including freestyle motor-cross. Riders fly up the ramp, performing tricks in mid-air with the Chicago skyline a magnificent backdrop.

“This is sick. It’s awesome,” NASCAR fan Jeremy Chung said. “Really digging it. First NASCAR event. Cool to see them it the streets. It’s pretty amazing.”

Chicago treasure, blues legend Buddy Guy, was appropriately the first musician to kick off the weekend. It was big improvement from last year’s inaugural race weekend when heavy rain forced the cancellation of the concerts and delayed the races.

“This is way better than last year. I love it,” NASCAR fan Isaiah White said. “I couldn’t experience the way I wanted to, but this year I have.”

More fan experiences

Just outside the track in Grant Park, fans got to experience the thrill and excitement of having a NASCAR race in Chicago.

“The weather is great,” a fan named Mark said. “Everything is great about the NASCAR racing here. The economy… everything. I know they weren’t going to do it for two years, but I hope they do it. Make it an annual thing.”

A special car unveiled in the Fan Zone kept fans busy all day.

“I think this is really cool. It’s my first time at NASCAR…” attendee Jayah Morris said.

The race weekend has shaped up to be much drier than the last year, when heavy rainfall impacted many of the weekend’s events.

“There’s a lot to do. A lot for kids too,” attendee Andrew Burns said. “We didn’t really have anything to do at all last year, because all this was closed and flooded, so it’s a new experience for us too.”

New this year are free events for fans at Butler Field in NASCAR Village, incorporating interactive displays, racing simulators, and appearances from NASCAR drivers.

“It’s pretty cool,” fan Henry Pink said. “I tried out the racing simulator. I got to sit in the car. I won one of these things from the spin game, so that’s pretty cool.”

More events were added this year with hopes of making race weekend more inclusive and representative of Chicago’s communities.

“This is really nice. It’s actually nice to have it open this year compared to last year too,” attendee Brian Castongia said. “There was nothing hardly going on, but this is great.”

NASCAR is teaming up with the Chicago Loop Alliance to make sure Chicago’s 77 neighborhoods are represented.

“We have 20 vendors that are folks that we work with on our Sundays on State,” said Michael Edwards with the Chicago Loop Alliance. “They’re from all Chicago, they’re small companies, big companies.”

Locally-owned restaurants and businesses in Grant Park offered ticketholders a taste of Chicago from the Pullman, Chatham, and historic Bronzeville neighborhoods. It is a true reflection of Chicago communities and NASCAR’s expanding reach.

“All the people that are coming here from around the world it’s an opportunity for them to learn more about Chicago, but also for us to learn more about NASCAR,” Edwards said.

Street closures

Major street closures went into effect on Friday.

Beginning at 12:01 a.m., northbound and southbound DuSable Lake Shore Drive is now closed between Randolph Street and McFetridge Road.

Southbound Michigan Avenue is closed between Roosevelt Road and Jackson Drive.

The northbound lane of Indiana Avenue is closed at 13th Street.

Monroe Street is closed between Columbus Drive and DuSable Lake Shore Drive.

READ MORE | Chicago NASCAR race course route map, street closures, parking restrictions

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