Chicago Speedway Fast, Wide, & (Almost) Sold Out Montoya runs a few hot laps at Ganassi's new Speedway by John Oreovicz Given the venue's horse racing origins, it's probably appropriate to say that construction of the new Chicago Motor ...
Chicago Speedway Fast, Wide, & (Almost) Sold Out Montoya runs a few hot laps at Ganassi's new Speedway by John Oreovicz
Given the venue's horse racing origins, it's probably appropriate to say that construction of the new Chicago Motor Speedway at Sportsman's Park is in the home stretch.
The one-mile paved oval, which is in the final stages of construction, will host the inaugural Target Grand Prix on August 22. But race promoter Chip Ganassi and his #4 Target team stopped by on their way to Elkhart Lake so driver Juan Montoya could lay down the first official hot laps on the actual track surface.
"It's really nice," said Montoya, who leads the PPG Cup standings as a rookie. "There were some bumps when I ran here a few weeks ago, and they're gone now, except for a small one in Turn 4. The track is very dusty, but the grip level is pretty good. When the track is 100 percent, it's going to be pretty exciting." Montoya said he reached speeds of 170 to 180 mph during his exhibition run, but your correspondent failed to put a watch on him. He believes the Target GP will be every bit as exciting as CART's last short oval race, at the Milwaukee Mile.
"The best thing is that it's very wide," Montoya said. "I'm sure you'll see many different lines, maybe even three cars abreast."
"I'd be happy just seeing two abreast," Chip Ganassi chimed in. For his part, Ganassi is delighted with the progress that is being made. "I'm feeling good about the construction," Ganassi said. "Every week when I'm here, I'm amazed at the progress.
"I see the Chicagoland area becoming a motor sports Mecca in the coming years," Ganassi continued. "Racing was born in the Midwest, and that region continues to be the heart of racing. This is a facility the area badly needs, and we're proud to drive in the first stake."
Ganassi the promoter said ticket sales are running ahead of projections. "The capacity is around 65,000, and we're at 45,000 sold already," Ganassi said. "The market is really responding, as we were confident it would. We've got just four sky suites remaining, and we're quickly approaching the area of being sold out."
Ganassi also announced that his team would take on Newman-Haas Racing in a pit stop contest at Chicago Motor Speedway on July 29.
"It's gonna be Target versus Kmart," Ganassi laughed. "Juan Montoya against Michael Andretti. They're going to settle the score from Japan."