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USA Today via Reuters

USA Today via Reuters

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  Debate

Debate

Will rain ruin the Chicago race again, or can SVG shine despite the weather?

In a rain-scattered 2024 season, NASCAR is witnessing soaked racing almost every weekend. The weather gods intervened first during the Daytona 500 race, which was pushed ahead a day. But they got serious from the Coca-Cola 600 race, which spelled heartbreak for the Hendrick Motorsports team. Now the Chicago Street Race is headed for a similar damp prospect.

Echoing last year’s weather debacle, July’s first weekend will yet again be washed down. Notably, Shane van Gisbergen overcame the showers and flabbergasted people with his debut Cup win. This year, he will potentially get a chance to display his rainy driving skills again, as the weather forecasts show.

Chicago Street Race bound for a rainy weekend

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We are yet to snap a continuous streak of rain-washed NASCAR weekends. The Chicago Street Race holds no promise of doing the job either. Race Weather recently updated the situation on X: “#NASCAR is heading to the Windy City for the #GrantPark165! Once again, the NASCAR Drought Buster ™️ will be in effect, with chances of rain in the forecast every day.”

Polls of the day

Polls 1 of 4

How do you feel about NASCAR's decision to race in Chicago despite the rain forecast?

Excited

Frustrated

Indifferent

Concerned for safety

Who do you think is more to blame for the Denny Hamlin-Kyle Larson rivalry?

Denny Hamlin

Kyle Larson

Both equally

Neither, it's just racing

Do you think Kevin Harvick's comparison of Bubba Wallace to Kyle Busch is fair?

Absolutely

Not at all

Somewhat

No opinion

How do you feel about Rodney Childers' uncertain future with Stewart-Haas Racing?

Worried

Indifferent

Excited for change

Angry

Interactions between two low-pressure systems will produce scattered thunderstorms on Friday. These will touch the Xfinity race schedule on Saturday as well. But the weather looks particularly gloomy for Sunday. A shortwave trough and a cold front would bring showers and storms – spelling a wet disaster for some if not all Cup drivers at the Chicago Street Race.

 

Last year, torrential rainfall, coupled with a Canadian wildfire haze, affected the event. NASCAR had wet-weather tires in place, and Shane van Gisbergen used them expertly. Despite canceled concerts and a drenched crowd, SVG’s presence made the race a TV ratings hit and by most accounts a boost to Chicago’s image and tourism efforts. 

Julie Giese, president of NASCAR’s Chicago Street Race, learned from the past year. “The weather was definitely a challenge. I think the key takeaway on that, though, is that we were able to get the event in. We were able to do it very successfully, in spite of record rainfall, and we did learn a lot.” After securing back-to-back road course wins at Portland and Sonoma, SVG is bound to make a mark again in Chicago.

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As the Chicago Street Race is bound for a damp run, let us look at some past road course races that were drenched in rain.

Damp Chicago’s precedents came a long way

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The Chicago Street Race debuted in NASCAR last year and got washed over with rain. But it had plenty of predecessors to look up to. Road America was the first-ever road course to be impacted by rain over 70 years ago. Lightning delayed the start by 40 minutes, and cars ran in adverse conditions on the 4.1-mile track. Even as rain continued to fall, NASCAR Hall of Famer Tim Flock won the race in 1956.

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It took until recently for NASCAR to come up with an effective rainy solution. Wet weather tires debuted at the Charlotte road course. Drivers navigated tricky conditions initially with a wet track, although there wasn’t much precipitation. They switched back to normal slicks when the racetrack dried. Yet overall the event was historic given NASCAR’s stride toward adapting to the weather gods’ whims.

Hence the Chicago Street Race is bound to be a success as NASCAR is well-prepared to tackle the rainy dilemma.