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NASCAR Cup Chicago Street Course

Busch: Chicago "will be one of the most challenging races" in Cup history

Kyle Busch says the logistics NASCAR faces pulling off its first street course race in the Cup Series are difficult, but the actual racing will present its own challenges as well.

Kyle Busch, Richard Childress Racing, Thorntons Chevrolet Camaro

Busch, a two-time Cup champion in his first season with Richard Childress Racing, is an accomplished road course racer but like much of field this week will be making his first NASCAR on a street course in Chicago.

The 12-turn, 2.2-mile street course – which was completed Friday – will take the Cup and Xfinity series fields through the Grant Park area of Chicago, including the iconic Buckingham Fountain, along Lake Michigan and approach the northern edge of Soldier Field, home of the NFL’s Chicago Bears.

“I feel like the Chicago Street Race is a really cool opportunity. It’s going to be a challenge for sure,” Busch, 38, said. “I’m curious to kind of see the layout and how it all really works.

“At the same time, it’s going to be a great venue for the city of Chicago and for NASCAR. They’re really making a big weekend out of it so it should be a good time.

“It might not be the most fun race that we do, just with the technicality of the race course and how narrow it is and street racing with big, heavy stock cars.”

Busch should be considered one of favorites this weekend – if it’s possible to even use that designation with an inaugural race.

He owns runner-up finishes in both road course races this season – at Circuit of the Americas and Sonoma (Calif.). In 49 career road course starts in Cup, he four wins and 27 top-10 finishes. In addition, in its last eight road course races, RCR’s No. 8 Chevrolet team two wins, two second-place finishes and has finished worse than eighth once.

 

While Busch has had a long and successful NASCAR career, he knows little of what to expect this weekend.

“I believe the Chicago Street Race will be one of the most challenging races that Cup has ever seen,” he said. “Yeah, we’re racing cars that were kind of made for road racing, but they’re still 3,600 pounds and big, heavy stock cars.

“We’re trying to run them on streets and rough streets at that. Really tight, 90-degree corners so everything is going to be super, super close action, tight quarters, bumping and banging and probably hitting some barriers here and there.

“It’s going to be a heck of a show and a very interesting one at that, especially being the first time with nobody really knowing what to expect.”

Track position paramount 

Drivers will get one 50-minute practice session Saturday followed by a two-round qualifying session before hitting the course on Sunday. And add the possibility of rain in the forecast, every position will be vital.

“I do believe that track position and qualifying will be very important. I don’t know about pit selection, but you can say that No. 1 pit box is typically the best, so you always want to get that or even an opening out,” Busch said.

“But with road course racing you typically don’t pit as a field, although the street race could have a lot of cautions and could lend itself to being a lot of traffic on pit road.”

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