NASCAR is set to compete at the brand-new Chicago Street Course this weekend, with the Grant Park 220 being the first ever Cup Series street course race.
For the first time ever in its 75-year history, the NASCAR Cup Series is set to compete on city streets this Sunday in Chicago, Illinois.
The only non-oval races the series has ever contested have been road course races, but that is set to change this weekend in the 100-lap Grant Park 220 around the new 12-turn, 2.2-mile (3.541-kilometer) temporary street course, officially called the Chicago Street Course.
While this race has long been hyped, there have also been those critical of NASCAR’s decision, especially with nearby Chicagoland Speedway being a perfectly suitable venue for a Cup Series race. It hasn’t hosted one since 2019.
Let’s also not forget those whose argument against the race is the fact that it replaced a fan-favorite event at Road America.
As is the case with any inaugural race, not much is known about who might thrive and who might struggle this Sunday. This race truly fits the definition of a “wild card” race.
DraftKings Sportsbook, which is now offering an instant $150 to those who sign up and bet $5, lists Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott as the favorite to win Sunday’s race.
Here are the top five drivers most likely to win the Chicago NASCAR Cup Series event, based on odds.
It is no surprise to see Elliott up top, considering his history in races with both left and right turns. He is the active leader in career road course wins with seven, which is just two shy of the all-time record, and it is worth noting that several of his wins have come in new events.
He won the inaugural races at Circuit of the Americas and Road America in 2021, the inaugural race at the Daytona International Speedway road course in 2020 (and would have won again in 2021 if not for somewhat of an entertainment caution), and the second and third races at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval in 2019 and 2020.
Suffice it to say that the 2020 series champion is pretty good when new non-oval tracks are added to the schedule.
It is not surprising to see Martin Truex Jr. up top either, given the fact that he was the class of the field in the most recent road course race at Sonoma Raceway. Truex has historically been strong in road course races, and that should hold true in street course events as well.
As for Kyle Larson and Tyler Reddick, they too have established themselves as some of the sport’s top road course racers. Neither driver had won a road course race before the 2021 season, and now they have combined for seven victories in such events, including four since July 2022 alone.
While Kyle Busch isn’t generally seen as a strong road course driver, having not won a road course race since 2015, he does have four career road course victories and two consecutive runner-up finishes in road course races in 2023. Can he translate that to street course success?
Let’s also not forget that he isn’t generally seen as a strong superspeedway driver either, yet he earned his first superspeedway win since 2008 at Talladega Superspeedway back in April.
Kaulig Racing’s A.J. Allmendinger, whose two career wins are both road course wins, could be a driver to watch as well. He is listed just below Busch.
The Grant Park 220 is set to be broadcast live on NBC from the new Chicago Street Course starting at 5:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, July 2. Be sure to start a free trial of FuboTV today and don’t miss it!