NASCAR Chicago rain Jul 2, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Crews work on drying the track during a weather delay in The Loop 121 of the Chicago Street Race viewed from the eRacing Association turn 7 Skydeck at Venue Six10. Mandatory Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

This weekend is supposed to be an opportunity for NASCAR to showcase their sport to an entirely new potential fanbase. Unfortunately, bad weather dominated the weekend so far.

On Saturday, the Xfinity Series race was stopped after 25 of 55 laps due to lightning in the area. The hope was for the race to resume Sunday morning, but flooding caused NASCAR to make the unprecedented decision to end the race two laps before halfway.

Cole Custer was declared the winner of The Loop 121 after starting from the pole and leading all 25 laps.

NASCAR put out a statement explaining their decision to end the race before the halfway distance, which is typically the minimum a race must be run to make it an official race.

The statement read:

“With standing water and flooding a significant issue at the race track and throughout the city, there was no option to return to racing prior to shifting to NASCAR Cup Series race operations. Throughout the entire planning process for the Chicago Street Race, our relationship with the City of Chicago has been strong and among the most valuable assets in reaching this historic weekend. In the spirit of that partnership, returning on Monday for the completion of a NASCAR Xfinity Series event two laps short of halfway was an option we chose not to employ. Based on several unprecedented circumstances, NASCAR has made the decision to declare Cole Custer the winner of the race.”

To explain why NASCAR could make a race official before halfway, the sanctioning body cited what amounts to a “force majeure” rule in the Xfinity Series rulebook which noted that “unforeseen or are otherwise extraordinary” circumstances can allow NASCAR to decide on the event “as a practical matter.”

In this case, given that this is a street course and because the city needs to set up for Lollapalooza as well as clear the streets as soon as possible for regular traffic, they can’t exactly keep the streets closed for NASCAR until they can get all the racing in. Maybe an exception can be made to finish a Cup Series race, but not Xfinity.

No matter what NASCAR decided, it would be an unpopular decision. Many people attended to go to the concerts, but they were all canceled due to the weather. NASCAR has rain tires, but they couldn’t race in those conditions. WGN reported that nearly four inches of rain fell in a 12-hour span from midnight to noon Sunday in multiple places in Chicago. Usually, that’s enough rain to cover the entire month of July in Chicago, and that happened in 12 hours. No racing rain tire will get through that.

NASCAR hopes it’ll stop raining so they can get the Cup race on Sunday afternoon. A flash flood warning is set to end at 3:15 PM CT, and the rain is expected to stop shortly after the expected start of the race at 4:00 PM CT. If anything can salvage an unlucky weekend, it’ll be that.


About Phillip Bupp

Producer/editor of the Awful Announcing Podcast and Short and to the Point. News editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. Highlight consultant for Major League Soccer as well as a freelance writer for hire. Opinions are my own but feel free to agree with them.

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