NASCAR unable to end Chicago race as scheduled

John Hunter Nemechek, Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR, Chicago Street Course (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
John Hunter Nemechek, Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR, Chicago Street Course (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) /

NASCAR needed to run just three more laps of Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at the new Chicago Street Course in order for the race to be deemed official.

The inaugural NASCAR Xfinity Series race at the brand-new Chicago Street Course got underway as scheduled on Saturday just after 5:00 p.m. ET.

But multiple lightning strikes and the potential for additional strikes ultimately led it to be halted and eventually postponed.

The difference between the race potentially being deemed official and thus complete on Saturday and the remainder of the race being postponed to Sunday morning at 11:00 a.m. ET was just three laps around the 12-turn, 2.2-mile (3.541-kilometer) temporary street circuit in Chicago, Illinois.

According to NASCAR rules, a race must reach either the halfway point or the end of stage two, whichever is earlier, in order to be ruled official.

Saturday’s race had a scheduled distance of 55 laps, and stage two was set to end after lap 30. So at least 28 laps (halfway) needed to be run in order for the race to be considered complete, with no need for resumption.

The decision was made to postpone it after lap 25.

While the actual lightning hold had been lifted, the facility needed to be evacuated and NASCAR did not want to finish the race without fans in the stands. This, coupled with the fact that the threat of additional lightning remained, ultimately led to its postponement.

Note that the goal on Sunday is to finish the full 55-lap scheduled distance of the event, not simply to get to lap 28. If the event does need to be stopped again, however, the rules would allow it to be considered official after lap 28.

Stewart-Haas Racing’s Cole Custer is the race leader.

The Weather Channel is calling for a 70% chance of rain throughout the day, though with wet weather tires available, this may not be an issue, provided there is no more lightning.

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USA Network is set to broadcast the remainder of the Loop 121 live from the Chicago Street Course beginning at 11:00 a.m. ET on Sunday, July 2. NBC is set to air the Grant Park 220 Cup Series race live beginning at 5:00 p.m. ET, with the start time of this race having just been moved up from 5:54 p.m. ET to 5:05 p.m. ET. Start a free trial of FuboTV now and tune into both events!