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Joey Hand Dances in the Rain in Chi-Town

2024 Cup Chicago street Joey Hand (Credit: NKP)

Top Dog: Joey Hand

“Raindrops keep falling on my head”

“But that doesn’t mean my eyes will soon be turning red”

B.J. Thomas’ song Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head could be the perfect setting for the Grant Park 165 at the Chicago street course (July 7).

A year after NASCAR’s debut on the street course experienced a biblical-style flood, the forecast was looking much more promising for its second rendition — until it wasn’t.

A quick but heavy shower bombarded the track just before the green flag waved, and after a brief delay, it set up the theme of the race: choosing between slick tires or wet tires.

When the checkered flag finally flew shortly before 8:30 p.m. CDT, albeit because of a timer due to darkness, the wet tires won out. Leading the underdog pack was Joey Hand in fourth, driving RFK Racing’s No. 60 Ford.

Hand was initially set to start on the wets but quickly changed to slicks before the race started.

Starting in the trunk of the field in 38th, Hand’s road course expertise was on full display. Driving by the cars with worn, wet tires, Hand entered the top 20 within the first 10 laps, finishing stage one in 18th.

Shortly after stage two commenced, the skies opened again, halting the race for nearly two hours.

Once the race resumed, Hand looked to be sailing on the water. He worked his way from just outside the top 15 up to 11th before a caution flew. Then, as soon as the green flag waved, the 45-year-old jumped into the top 10.

As stage two began to wind down and Hand inched his way towards the top five, several cars pitted for slick tires, forcing the leaders to mitigate the strategy by pitting themselves. That allowed Hand to take the lead and win stage two.

Hand’s “submarine” launched from the lead to kick off the final stage. However, the time clock had come into play, with 16 minutes remaining before the white flag would be displayed.

The Sacramento, Calif. fought tooth and nail to hold off Alex Bowman, but he eventually succumbed to the No. 48 before another caution flew with 12 minutes remaining.

Hand gave Bowman a lot to think about when the final restart occurred with five minutes remaining. However, Bowman eventually drove away to the win, while the slick tires finally gained an advantage with the track drying. Still, Hand was able to finish strong and grab a top five for RFK’s Stage 60 team.

While all eyes were glued on defending race…

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