What Drivers Are Saying Ahead of the Inaugural Race on the Streets of Chicago

What NASCAR Drivers Are Saying Ahead of the Inaugural Race on the Streets of Chicago is presented by Brian Eberly in Chicago this weekend.

An exciting vibe is taking hold of downtown Chicago and seems to be spreading to everyone attending the first-ever Chicago Street Race this weekend. Even the NASCAR Cup Series superstars seem to enjoy the novelty of the Chicago Street Race and the festive atmosphere. Several are sharing their thoughts during media interviews.

What Drivers Are Saying Ahead of the Inaugural Race on the Streets of Chicago

Denny Hamlin – No. 11 Yahoo! Toyota – Pole Sitter for Sunday’s Inaugural Race

“Just really props to NASCAR and the city for making it happen. I certainly was pessimistic when it was first announced. I started warming up to it a little bit in the months leading up, but obviously when you see the fans that are walking around here on a Saturday – their excitement of just seeing a NASCAR race car up close taking pictures.

“It kind of is like this is what we’re supposed to do here. I mentioned on the podcast last week, the sooner we just kind of understand the gravity of the event and not get caught up too much in the on-track stuff I think the better off we’re going to be.

“Certainly, we were very optimistic about today.”

Denny Hamlin

“I certainly didn’t like waking up to rain. I thought that could’ve really changed things for me quite a bit, and hopefully it does not rain tomorrow. It was just a great day.

“Probably my single best day at the race track in all of my career for sure.”

Denny Hamlin

Jenson Button – No. 15 Mobil 1 Ford – Starts 8th

“Humidity is the first thing that hits you when you just get off the plane, which we’ll definitely have to deal with this weekend. But, it’s so cool – racing within a city. There aren’t many racing drivers that get that opportunity. I’ve had the opportunity at Monaco and in Singapore, but not in a stock car. So, this is a new and exciting opportunity.

“For me, I think the racing is going to be out-of-this-world and exciting.

Jenson Button

“Racing in the wet… it’ll be nuts. It’ll be pretty crazy. Totally up for it. Most of the guys wouldn’t have driven on street courses, and most of the guys wouldn’t have raced in the wet. So, it’s going to be mayhem out there – but in a good and positive way. A little bit nuts… Like a sprinkling of nuts, whereas in the wet, it’s going to be a shower of nuts.

“I can only think of positives. I don’t see why anyone would be negative. It’s one race out of many. We’re trying something new. I think it’s exciting. We’re going to see Cup cars and Xfinity cars racing on the streets of Chicago. I mean, it’s pretty crazy, right?

Jenson Button

“I think it’s a great challenge for everyone. For the organizers that put this on, I’m impressed. But also for everyone involved. The logistics are difficult. I know from previous experience in street races. I think to have got to this point already, we should congratulate everyone for what they’ve done.

“There are a lot of new fans that come to the sport. You have to respect the people that have been a fan of this sport for decades, but you also want to bring in a new, younger fan base. This is a good way of doing that.”

Jenson Button

Joey Logano – No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford – Starts 9th

“So far, I’d say it’s a success from a lot of different things. I told some people from NASCAR that even if the race is just okay, it’s a success because of where we are and the marketing that’s come along with it.

“So many people in Chicago are talking about NASCAR racing right now. They may not have talked about it or ever heard about it – or interested in it – and they’re going to come see it. Hopefully, you hook them into loving the sport like we have so many others. From that standpoint, it’s already a win for our sport.

Joey Logano

“There are some really tricky spots on the racetrack. It’s hard. It’s like, you push a little too much, you’ll wreck your car. It’s definitely going to be tough.”

Brad Keselowski – No. 6 Elk Grove Village Ford – Starts 20th

“I think at some point, you just have to go do things. You can get caught up in ‘what’s going to / what’s not going to work,’ and you can talk yourself out of a lot of things going down that path, but it’s important to refresh and renew. I don’t know if this weekend’s going to work out, but I hope it does. I have a lot invested in it personally, just like a lot of others do. But there are a couple really good indicators that it’s going to work well – it’s a really good sentiment and an excited town as we’re pulling in. So, those are really good things.

“I think it’s really important for the sport to try different things, to not be scared to fail. We will not grow at all as a sport if we’re overly scared of failing. This seems like a pretty calculated maneuver and a good piece of energy for our sport, and that’s always looking for something new and fresh to move it forward.

Brad Keselowski

“I would expect this race to look very similar to the first race we ran at the roval, where a few people will get humbled very quickly in practice, qualifying and maybe even the start of the race. That will settle it down, and then at the end, it’ll turn into some pretty tough racing. I would expect a race with a lot of variability in it.”

Chase Elliott – No. 9 Hooters Chevrolet – Starts 26th

“Yeah, I’m pleasantly surprised with just the lay of how everything is operating. The track looks really nice, I feel like. I’m excited about it. My laps and time in the simulator – I had a lot of fun. I thought the track actually had a nice flow to it, so that was cool.

Overall, I think from my end, super impressed with all the logistics and things that go into this stuff. So props to NASCAR and all the people that put this place together – built the walls, built the fences and have done all the work over these last handful of weeks because a lot went into it. We’re all just kind of showing up here this weekend, but there’s a lot of work down there. Just excited to be here and hope we can put on a good show.

“I commend NASCAR for trying. I think a lot should be said for that because for many years, nothing was really changing and it was working to a pretty large degree there for a long time. And that’s great, they didn’t need to.

“But this leadership group at NASCAR – I’ve said this over the last few years, I feel like more has changed in the last five or six years, or at least in my time that I’ve been here, than it probably changed in the prior 15 or 20 years. I think it is a good thing, just from the standpoint that they’re willing to try new things.

Chase Elliott

“I am excited to be a part of it. It’s been fun. I think this weekend has a lot of potential.”

Chase Elliott

Kevin Harvick – No. 4 GEARWRENCH Ford – Starts 35th

“We did the track walk this morning (Saturday) and was obviously pretty impressed by the way that the track looked. I think there’s a lot of excitement and buzz and when you create this kind of event to come into a weekend everybody wants to see how it goes and what happens, so there’s a lot of intrigue and I think that’s really part of what makes a great event.

Kevin Harvick

“From the time I walked in the hotel and the way that it was organized and structured, it felt like old-school NASCAR to me with just the things that have happened since I’ve walked off the plane to come into the racetrack and into the hotel, so it’s been a great experience so far.

“It was just so much different when I started (in the Cup Series in 2001) because of racing at new racetracks in the middle of nowhere was exciting. I think with the way that the evolution of the sport has evolved into doing things differently, we’ve raced inside of a football stadium, we’ve raced on street courses now.

“We’ve been on dirt. We’ve raced in the rain – all things that I would have thought you were crazy for, and pretty much everyone would have thought you were crazy for at that particular time. It’s a constant evolution of trying to make things different and exciting.”

Kevin Harvick

Ross Chastain – No. 1 Advent Health Chevrolet – Starts 34th

It’s a little different than Nashville, that’s for sure. Being out at the racetrack, it’s wild. I think we are all kind of experiencing it and whether you grew up in a city like this or not, it’s different when we are coming here and the thought of racing a NASCAR race.

“For me, it’s a bit different than Alva, Florida, and I am embracing it. It’s been an incredible feeling just knowing this is where we are going to work this weekend. When I strap in on Sunday, it’s right here, in the buildings. It’s going to be different and I am proud to be one of the drivers to be a part of this history-making moment.”

Ross Chastain

“I mean I am looking out of all these windows in this incredible art institute, and you can’t see the sky. It’s only buildings. I see a couple of trees, and from my point of view, I am not used to that. I am used to wide open farm fields and two-lane roads in south Florida. So, to be here now and know that when I strap in, I am probably not going to see much of the sky. It’s going to be buildings, walls, fences and tight confines.

It’s real, it’s here and I get to be a part of it. I am just thankful for that and then we go to work.”

Ross Chastain

“Once we get on track, it will be just another racetrack, another 12 turns, try to beat my competitors and my heroes come Sunday.

“I have heard and been told that it will gain grip and lap time throughout the weekend from when we start. It will gain exponentially, and we are not sure with these cars how much more. But the track will naturally be faster with more rubber as we lay it down.”

The Grant Park 220 is taking place for the inaugural Chicago Street Race on Sunday, July 2nd at 5 pm ET. Coverage is available on NBC, MRN, SiriusXM Radio, and streaming on Peacock.

Counting Down to the Green Flag for the Grant Park 220