NASCAR facing potential Chicago race day conflict?

Grant Park 220, Chicago Street Course, NASCAR - Mandatory Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports
Grant Park 220, Chicago Street Course, NASCAR - Mandatory Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports /

The Chicago Cubs have a home game on the same afternoon as the inaugural NASCAR Cup Series street race in Chicago, but that likely won’t be an issue.

After years of speculation and rumors and months of legitimate hype surrounding the first ever NASCAR street course race weekend, the Cup Series is set for a first of its kind event this Sunday on the streets of Chicago, Illinois.

Zero of the previous 2,714 Cup Series races over the sport’s 75-year history have been contested on city streets, but that is set to change.

Perhaps no event on this year’s schedule — or really on any schedule in quite some time — has been met with more mixed reactions than Sunday’s Grant Park 220 has since it was announced as a part of the 2023 calendar back in July 2022.

Many fans are excited to see how street racing will work for the Cup Series, while others have accused the sport of trying to attract a demographic that simply isn’t interested in the sport.

Those fans have also noted that Chicagoland Speedway, which hosted Cup Series races for nearly two decades, continues to sit dormant, waiting and ready to return to the schedule.

This Sunday, many questions will be answered, for better or for worse.

But is there one potential problem that NASCAR hasn’t addressed?

The Chicago Cubs are set to play a home MLB game the same day as the Chicago NASCAR race.

However, there are two key reasons why this game, featuring the Cubs and the Cleveland Guardians, will be nothing more than a small factor, if even that, on race day.

Wrigley Field, which seats 41,649 fans, is located roughly seven miles north of the 12-turn, 2.2-mile (3.541-kilometer) temporary street course, which is expected to draw upwards of 50,000 fans on Sunday from all 50 states and 14 different countries.

Guaranteed Rate Field, the home of the Chicago White Sox, is much closer at rough four and a half miles south, but the White Sox are away on Sunday.

Additionally, the Cubs game is set to begin at 2:20 p.m. ET. The race is set to begin shortly after 5:30 p.m. ET. The average nine-inning baseball game lasts about two and a half hours.

Again, it should not be a factor.

City officials and everybody involved in the preparation of this event have done absolutely everything in their power to make sure that it goes off as smoothly as possible.

While criticism from a contingent of NASCAR fans — and, yes, some disgruntled locals — was always inevitable, those in charge and responsible for ensuring the success of this event have done their homework. If this game had truly posed a conflict, the schedule would have been different.

Both Chicago MLB teams are doing their part to promote the race, which also wouldn’t be the case if there was any sort of a potential logistical conflict involved.

On top of that, the weather forecast for Sunday’s race looks good, with partly cloudy skies and a high of 76 degrees expected, according to The Weather Channel. Provided the air quality improves by then, the race should move forward as planned.

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The Grant Park 220 is scheduled to be broadcast live on NBC from Chicago Street Course starting at 5:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, July 2. Start a free trial of FuboTV now and don’t miss it!