The 2024 NASCAR Chicago Street Race weekend is in full swing on Saturday for Day 1; Shane van Gisbergen wins XFinity Series race

CHICAGO (WLS) — It’s time for the start of the second NASCAR Chicago Street Race weekend.

On Saturday, the drivers lapped the 2.2-mile circuit in Grant Park, with Shane van Gisbergen winning the XFinity Series race after winning the Cup Series in Chicago last year.

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

Approximately 2,000 concrete barriers were placed to create the insane street circuit, allowing drivers to tour the Chicago Loop.

With the iconic skyline in the background, the cars race down city streets like Michigan Avenue and DuSable Lake Shore Drive, reaching top speeds of over 100 mph on the fast straights and taking tight turns on the challenging circuit.

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

Overview of the events:

The gates opened at 8:45am

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

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

Buddy Guy performed on the DraftKings Stage from 1:15pm – 2:00pm on Saturday

The Black Keys will perform on the DraftKings Stage on Saturday from 5:00 PM to 6:30 PM.

The Chainsmokers will take the stage on Saturday evening at 8:00 PM.

The Cup Series, a 75-lap race, will be held on Sunday at 3:30 p.m.

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

Fanrace experience

With engines revving and tires squealing, the second season of NASCAR Chicago kicked off.

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

Both loyal fans and newcomers were enthusiastic.

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

Saturday’s race, The Loop 110, is a warm-up for Sunday’s main event, the NASCAR Cup Series race. With the sun shining, it’s an ideal day to tear through the downtown streets at top speeds of over 100 mph.

“I think it’s awesome,” said South Carolina NASCAR fan Ryneshia Pauling. “Everybody comes out, and this is different for me because it’s street racing, not on a drag strip.”

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

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

While the racing is the main attraction, there is plenty more for fans to enjoy, including freestyle motocross, where riders fly up the ramp and perform tricks in the air with the Chicago skyline as a beautiful backdrop.

“This is crazy. It’s awesome,” said NASCAR fan Jeremy Chung. “I think it’s really cool. First NASCAR event. It’s cool to see them on the streets. It’s really awesome.”

Chicago darling, blues legend Buddy Guy, was fittingly the first musician to kick off the weekend. It was a vast improvement over last year’s inaugural race weekend, when heavy rain forced the cancellation of concerts and delayed the races.

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

More fan experiences

Near the racetrack in Grant Park, fans could experience the excitement and thrill of a NASCAR race in Chicago.

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

A special car unveiled in the Fan Zone kept fans entertained throughout the day.

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

The race weekend will be a lot drier than last year, when many events that weekend were affected by heavy rainfall.

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

New this year are free fan events at Butler Field in NASCAR Village, featuring interactive displays, racing simulators and appearances by NASCAR drivers.

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

This year, more events were added in hopes of making the race weekend more inclusive and representative of Chicago’s communities.

“This is really fun. It’s actually fun to have it open this year compared to last year,” said attendee Brian Castongia. “There was almost nothing to do, but this is awesome.”

NASCAR partners with the Chicago Loop Alliance to ensure that Chicago’s 77 neighborhoods are represented.

“We have 20 vendors, people that we work with on Sunday at State,” said Michael Edwards of the Chicago Loop Alliance. “They come from all over Chicago, they’re small businesses, big businesses.”

Local restaurants and businesses in Grant Park offered ticket holders a taste of Chicago from the Pullman, Chatham and historic Bronzeville neighborhoods. It’s a true reflection of Chicago’s communities and the growing reach of NASCAR.

“For all the people that come here from all over the world, it’s an opportunity to learn more about Chicago, but also for us to learn more about NASCAR,” Edwards said.

Street closures

Major streets will be closed on Friday.

As of 12:01 a.m., northbound and southbound DuSable Lake Shore Drive is 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 track map, road closures, parking restrictions

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