Tuesday, June 27, 2023 by Marc Cantin
In an effort to vary its appeal to fans, NASCAR has added temporary circuit racing to the streets of Chicago this year. The two main series of its organization chart, the Cup and the Xfinity, will share the poster on this occasion, the Xfinity series having its race on Saturday, July 1, the Cup series the following day.
In Xfinity, no less than 43 drivers are registered. Among them are three Quebecers. If the name of Alex Labbé is familiar to series enthusiasts, it should be noted that the driver from Victoriaville will evolve this time within the Emerling Gase Motorsports team, on the Chevrolet No.35. For Dexter Stacey, of Kahnawake, it will be his second start in the series this season, still with the No.66 Ford of Carl Long’s MBM (Motorsports Business Management) team.
The main novelty comes from the 3rd registered Quebecer, Alex Guénette (photo above). The young driver from Mascouche decided to take advantage of such an event to demonstrate his skill, this time on an urban track. “The party will be amazing. Ben Kennedy, Vice President of Racing at NASCAR, and Dominic Fugère, General Manager of GP3R, have worked together to bring NASCAR’s first street race to the United States. No one has driven on the track yet and it’s unclear how the cars will handle at high speeds. Everyone is therefore heading into the unknown in terms of race settings and strategies! I like urban routes and I promise myself to learn while having fun” indicated Alex Guénette. In addition to his 36 starts in the Pinty’s series, 4 in the Xfinity series and 3 in NASCAR pickups, and having driven in the leading pack since the start of the Pinty’s 2023 season, Alex feels well prepared to attack this unique track.
The Loop 121, presented on the shores of Lake Michigan in Chicago, offers a rectangular route imagined for the series of eNASCAR simulations in 2021. Long of 3.54 km, the circuit has 12 turns, or 7 to 90 degrees, a bend in S (right-left-right) and 5 heavy brakes. This track is somewhat reminiscent of that of the GP3R, where Alex Guénette won the NASCAR Pinty’s race in 2022.
The Xfinity Series race will be contested over 55 laps and kicked off at 4:00 p.m. local time (5:00 p.m. in Quebec) on Saturday for a distance of 194.7 km or 121 miles. For the full list of 43 registrants, click here.
For the 38 NASCAR Cup Series drivers, the Chicago race also promises plenty of action. In addition to the regular drivers, we will also find, for a second start in the series (after Austin in the spring), the Formula 1 world champion (2009) Jenson Button. Shane Van Gisbergen, triple champion (2016-21-22) of the Supercar series in Australia, will drive the Chevrolet No.91, a 3rd car from the Trackouse Racing team which won last week in Nashville with Ross Chastain (No.1 ). As for Button, he will drive the No.15 Ford of Rick Ware Racing.
Road circuit veteran Andy Lally (No.51 / Ford of Rick Ware Racing) and Jimmie Johnson will also be at the start. The seven-time champion of the series will find for the occasion the Chevrolet No.84 of Legacy Motor Club, the team of which he is co-owner. For the full list of registrants, click here. The start of the Cup race, Grant Park 220, will be given on Sunday (July 2) at 4:30 p.m. local time (5:30 p.m. Quebec time). For the complete weekend schedule, click here.