Kyle Busch’s debut season with Richard Childress Racing has been remarkable, with three wins to his name, placing him on par with William Byron. Although his victories thus far have been on tracks without right-hand turns, Busch has displayed his prowess at road courses with notable runner-up finishes at COTA and Sonoma.
However, the upcoming inaugural race at the Chicago Street Course presents an entirely different challenge.
During a media session at Nashville Superspeedway, Busch shared his thoughts on the course. “It’s an incredibly demanding track,” he described. “The surface is rough and slippery, featuring some highly challenging corners, including blind ones. One particularly treacherous section is the left-hander around the Bean, which is exceptionally slick, coupled with a significant bump before entering turn 10.”
Busch also expressed concerns about the narrow wall in turn eight, preceding the left-hander, as it poses a risk to the right front of the car. He suggested that more space should be allotted in that area to avoid potential damage. Despite these obstacles, Busch acknowledged that tight street courses like Chicago are inherently demanding.
Road course events in NASCAR often witness intense competition towards the conclusion, evident in the 2023 race at COTA and the 2022 event at the Indy RC. Unlike those circuits, Chicago lacks sufficient run-off areas or grass patches to provide drivers with an escape route. Any incident during the race would likely result in car damage and leave little room for other drivers to maneuver. Understanding the nature of the event, Busch emphasized that survival and reaching the finish line would be the primary goal.
“It’s going to be a survival race. We’ve had a couple of those before; the last one that comes to mind is turn one at Indy RC. Starting from the 20th position would be futile, as turn one might resemble the ROVAL restart at Charlotte, where we all collided with the barrier. It’s all about survival.”
In recent years, NASCAR has embraced bold initiatives, such as introducing dirt to Bristol and organizing races within stadiums in Los Angeles. Busch contemplated what would constitute success for the upcoming race in Chicago.
“To me, success would be defined by action—a thrilling race with captivating stories unfolding on the street course,” Busch shared. “I looked at the first-year IndyCar race in Nashville on a street course—they had that massive pileup that nearly blocked the track. Although it’s not the kind of action drivers want to witness, fans sometimes enjoy the chaos. It becomes a social moment they can share. If that’s the case for us drivers, then so be it; that’s where the race will stand. It’s a spectacle, something the Cup Series hasn’t seen in a very long time, if ever.”
The race has also attracted international attention, with former F1 World Champion Jenson Button set to make his second Cup start of the year. Joining him is three-time Australian Supercars champion Shane van Gisbergen, a seasoned driver on street courses, who will make his NASCAR Cup debut with Trackhouse at Chicago.
Button hopes for a more subdued NASCAR experience at Chicago
Van Gisbergen respects the challenge of NASCAR
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Chicago Street Course
What is the Chicago Street Course race?
The Chicago Street Course race is a new event in NASCAR held on a street circuit in Chicago. It offers a unique challenge with rough and slippery surfaces, challenging corners, and narrow sections.
How has Kyle Busch performed in the season with Richard Childress Racing?
Kyle Busch has been impressive in his first season with Richard Childress Racing, having won three races so far, putting him on par with William Byron.
What are Kyle Busch’s thoughts on the Chicago Street Course?
Kyle Busch described the Chicago Street Course as rough, slippery, and featuring challenging corners, including blind ones. He also highlighted specific areas of concern, such as a slippery left-hander and a narrow wall in turn eight.
How does Kyle Busch anticipate the race at the Chicago Street Course?
Kyle Busch expects the race to be a survival challenge, where making it to the finish line will be crucial. He compared a section of the course to a tight spot at Indy RC and emphasized the need to navigate the course without incidents.
What makes the Chicago Street Course race unique?
The Chicago Street Course race stands out for being a street circuit event, which NASCAR hasn’t done in a long time, if ever. It lacks significant run-off areas and grass patches, making any incident potentially damaging and leaving little room for other drivers.
Who are the international stars participating in the race?
Former F1 World Champion Jenson Button plans to make his second Cup start of the year in the event. Additionally, three-time Australian Supercars champion Shane van Gisbergen will make his NASCAR Cup debut with Trackhouse at the Chicago Street Course.