Ross Chastain: Chicago Race Can ‘Elevate All of Us’

Getty Ross Chastain (left) sees the positive side of the Chicago Street Race.

The Chicago Street Race will be a historic event for NASCAR, but will it be a success? According to Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain, it already is due to the exposure.

As the driver of the No. 1 Chevrolet Camaro explained during a press conference at Nashville Superspeedway, there are going to be so many new fans. He pointed to the number of tickets sold to new fans in advance of the inaugural street race, and he said that a lot of people will simply walk up when they hear the engines roaring through the heart of the city. This will only put NASCAR in front of new potential fans.

“I think there’s signs all over town so they’ll at least know about it,” Chastain said. “And then when we go roaring down through there, there are going to be so many new fans. I’m bought-in. It doesn’t matter, for me, how my personal race goes or my weekend goes. I could very easily drive it into the tire barriers about every corner if I’m not careful.

“I’ve done that on the simulator quite a bit. You make the brake zone by just a few feet and there’s no run-off. Yes, I want points and I want to win, but I’m more looking at it from the big picture of us as a whole and if it elevates all of us, it’ll pay off for me in the long run.”

Chastain’s Boss Sees Positives Entering the Chicago Week

GettyRoss Chastain stands at attention during the national anthem.

Chastain is not the only one that sees the positives of the Chicago Street Race. Trackhouse Racing owner Justin Marks also had some comments about the upcoming event during a press conference of his own.

Marks, who will actually drive for Kaulig Racing in the Xfinity Series race, explained that street racing can definitely provide excitement late in green flag runs when drivers are sliding around on old tires. His hope is that there won’t be a lot of caution flags that lead to the field lining up behind the pace car.

Ultimately, Marks sees how the Chicago Street Race can be a success regardless of the racing. He has seen firsthand how residents of a variety of cities will watch a race simply because there is a big event happening that provides excitement. It happened in other racing series, and it can happen in NASCAR.

“I tell this story — I raced in the Long Beach Grand Prix in one of the support divisions six or eight years ago,” Marks said. “I remember Sunday morning before the race, I sort of had this lightbulb moment where I was like, ‘this race works so well because there’s 100,000 people here and 95,000 of them aren’t race fans.

“‘They’re here because something is happening in their town and it’s exciting and came right to their front doorstep.’ So I think that’s an important element of street racing. We run a race in Nashville and there’s so many people that come that don’t know much about IndyCar racing. They just think it’s cool that there’s race cars coming to their city and racing through the streets and it’s quite a spectacle. So from that standpoint, I’m a huge fan of NASCAR doing it.”

The Race Will Provide Some Intense Battles

When the new fans watch this street race in Chicago, they will get a firsthand look at cars from the Xfinity Series and Cup Series. They will also see close-quarters battles on a purpose-built track that will challenge the best drivers in the field.

“It’s really rough. It’s bumpy. It’s slippery,” Kyle Busch said at Nashville Superspeedway. “There’s some corners that are very challenging, some blind ones at that. When you’re going around the Bean on the left-hander, that’s really, really slippery and there’s a huge bump going through [Turn] 9 before you get into [Turn] 10. The wall in [Turn] 8, before you go around the left-hander, is, to me, really narrow over there.

“You’re barely trying to miss getting your right front ripped off; not bouncing off that and killing your car on the left side. So there could be more room given over there, I feel like. That’s probably a really tight spot that could use a little bit of help, just based off of what the simulator is telling us. But other than that, it’s going to be a tight street course. That’s what tight street courses are.”

There is a belief that this race could be major for NASCAR. It could help bring in new fans that may not have necessarily expressed interest in the racing series. Making the race weekend an event with numerous concerts will only aid in this pursuit.

That being said, the action on the track will need to deliver for viewers in attendance and those at home. A caution-filled wreck-fest could potentially turn potential fans away, as could a race with only one lead change. There will have to be some contact between drivers, some angry comments, and some passes for the lead.


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