Sunday, Oct 01

Bass Pro Shops Racing: Martin Truex Jr. Chicago Street Race Advance

Bass Pro Shops Racing: Martin Truex Jr. Chicago Street Race Advance JGR Photo

Notes of Interest


● The inaugural Grant Park 220 on the streets of downtown Chicago will mark the first street-course race in the NASCAR Cup Series’ 75-year history. Drivers will speed past some of the city’s most renowned landmarks, from Michigan Avenue to South Lake Shore Drive, with the start/finish line near Buckingham Fountain.


“Saturday in the Park:” Qualifying for the Grant Park 220 takes place on Saturday, and it’s where Sunday’s 100-lap race around the 2.2-mile, 12-turn temporary street circuit could very well be won. Track position will be paramount, as those starting up front are far more likely to stay up front.


● Truex and the No. 19 team for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) set the tone for the season right out of the gate by winning the 150-lap feature in the non-points Clash at the Coliseum on Feb. 5 in Los Angeles. Truex won his heat race, then went on to lead the final 25 laps of the feature en route to a victory that gave him and the team much-needed momentum heading into the 2023 season. While the team was knocking on the door over the next 10 points races, the breakthrough points-paying win finally came at Dover (Del.) Motor Speedway on May 1, and Truex added a second points-paying victory and third overall this season three weekends ago at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway.


33 and Counting: Truex’s win at Sonoma was the 33rd of his Cup Series career, putting him in a tie with NASCAR Hall of Famer Fireball Roberts for 26th on the series’ all-time wins list.


Road-Course Ace: While the street-course in Chicago is a first for NASCAR’s top series, Truex has been impressive on road courses during his career. Truex has a total of five wins, 13 top-five finishes, and 18 top-10s at the three permanent road-course venues on the Cup Series schedule – Sonoma, Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, and Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International. In addition to his four wins at Sonoma, he’s scored one at Watkins Glen and is looking to add himself to the list as the first-ever NASCAR Cup Series street-course winner at Chicago.


● After his runner-up finish last weekend at Nashville (Tenn.) Superspeedway, Truex continues to lead the Cup Series driver standings as the series heads to Chicago. He has 576 points, 18 ahead of William Byron and Ross Chastain, who are tied for second. The top five in the Cup Series standings are separated by just 48 points as things start to heat up in the chase for the regular-season championship. The regular-season champion will receive 15 important playoff points when the playoffs start on Labor Day weekend in September. Nine races remain in the regular season.


● When he took over the lead in the driver standings following his win at Sonoma, it was first time for Truex since 2018, when he led heading to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, five races into that season. That was 191 races ago. While this is his first points lead in more than five years, Truex has won 17 races and has led 5,069 laps in those 191 outings.


Ahead at this Stage: Truex leads the NASCAR Cup Series with 57 stage wins since the beginning of the stage racing era in 2017. He is the only driver with 10 or more stage sweeps, as well. Truex added to his haul of stage wins by taking the opening stage last month at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.


Martin Truex Jr., Driver of the No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota Camry TRD


What are your expectations for the Chicago Street Course race this weekend?


“It’s kind of a new ballgame for all of us. I’ve never raced on a street course or anything like it. Of course with stock cars there hasn’t been a lot of that in general. We did a little iRacing on that course a few years ago. We’ve been doing some simulator work, trying to get some kind of feel for it. It’s going to be a big challenge. I feel like in my mind it’s going to be pretty difficult and bumpy. These cars aren’t great on bumpy tracks, so I think they are going to be a handful and hard to figure out. We won’t have much practice, so it could be a wild show for the fans. Hopefully it’s fun and we figure it out before anyone else and we have a great race with our Bass Pro Shops Toyota Camry TRD.”


What is the first thing that goes through your head when you think about heading to Chicago and the street-course race this weekend?


“Like I said, these cars don’t do well on bumpy surfaces and the big unknown is just how bumpy will it be? It has a chance to be really crazy. It’s going to be fun, though, to get to do something new. Every time they’ve brought in something new the last several years, we all have been apprehensive. Just saying, ‘I don’t know about this,’ and then we do it and it’s turned out to be pretty cool. Just trying to stay open-minded and just trying to look forward to the challenge. I know it’s going to be difficult, but that’s what makes it fun.”


Do you look at the Chicago Street Race sort of like the Roval, then, with you being apprehensive at first, but maybe had more fun once you did it a couple of times and knew what you needed to do?


“I think so. I can remember I was one of the first guys to test the Roval before there were any curves. It was just the infield road course with grass all around. I was thinking that was too small and narrow and how are we going to race on this thing? As it turned out, it was quite the show. Like I said, you have to be open-minded and embrace the challenges and try to do what you can with it.”


What do you think of the concept of going to Chicago, to the city, and exposing new fans to the sport?


“I think it’s a good idea, I’ve just never done street racing before. I’m optimistic that it’s going to be a good time and it’s going to go off well. I have no idea the logistics involved. I can’t even imagine what goes into it. It’s going to be interesting to see a street course with these cars, what the grip level might be in each corner. You just wonder what the difference is in each turn – that’s the competitor side of me thinking. On the race fan side, it seems like it’s going to be cool, so we will see how it goes. Hopefully it’s a good turnout and it goes off well. I enjoy tracks that are unique and challenging and it’s always a good challenge to learn a new place, and I can’t imagine what it’s like to the people of Chicago since I have no idea what they are going to be like.”


What type of track causes the most chaos in the Cup Series these days?


“The obvious answer to most is the superspeedways and how things happen and how it can take out a lot of cars quickly. However, road-course restarts have become the next-craziest part of what we do. Looking back at last year, we crashed on one of the restarts with guys going five- and six-wide and guys trying to make up eight to 10 spots in one corner. I think that’s the biggest change in our sport the last few years. You saw it again on those last restarts at COTA, we all went up into turn one and someone dive bombed and didn’t make the corner and it cost us and a few others a good finish. Sonoma is a completely different challenge since you don’t all feed down into a sharp turn like we do at COTA or Indy. We will have a lot of those turns this weekend, so it’s going to be interesting.” 




No right click

Please link the article.