Motorsport News

NASCAR in the Wet Remains a Diamond in the Rough

2024 Cup Chicago street pack racing IV - Ty Gibbs, No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, and Kyle Larson, No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet (Credit: James Gilbert/Getty Images via NASCAR Media)

What Happened?

Another rain-affected NASCAR Cup Series race at the Chicago street course came to a close with Alex Bowman in victory lane. Bowman triumphed on wet-weather tires over Tyler Reddick and Ty Gibbs, finishing second and third on slicks.

With the victory, Bowman snapped an 80-race winless streak, dating back to his Las Vegas triumph in the spring of 2022.

What Really Happened?

Unfortunately, Mother Nature rained on the Chicago party once again. The race — and track — that has produced an incredible atmosphere and awesome action in its short lifespan can’t seem to catch a break from the weather.

The Chicago street course, or something like it at least, absolutely deserves another race next season. I’ll do one better: It needs a more permanent place on future schedules.

In both the Cup Series and the Xfinity Series, the street circuit has put on a show, even with limited action.

Additionally, the tire strategy added yet another fascinating element of team strategy and driver skill to the afternoon and evening. However, NASCAR may have missed another opportunity to plot a data point in this wet weather experiment. 

We’ve seen NASCAR push the limit with wet-weather tires a few times before, first in the Xfinity Series at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in 2016 and again at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL in 2020. The Cup Series experiment went pretty far at the Circuit of the Americas in 2021 until we learned about visibility issues due to spray.

In that moment, the “rain” tires changed to “wet-weather” tires, and NASCAR has been hesitant to push too far in wet conditions.

This weekend, however, NASCAR faced a bind. Constrained by a late start and an inability to delay to Monday, the race had to run in some way, shape or form. Oh, and it HAD to get past halfway. Another redo of last year’s Xfinity Chicago experience could not happen to the Cup Series.

It looked like the teams and drivers would push as far as they could into the rain until the favorite got taken out. A questionable double-file restart remained fairly tame for the first corner. Bowman spun Bubba Wallace, but no yellow allowed the field to get spread out. But then, Chase Briscoe

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