NASCAR Examining Possibility of Unique Street Course Race: Report

iRacing Chicago

Getty NASCAR is examining a potential street course in Chicago.

The 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season is only three races deep, but there are plans being put in place for the future. Ben Kennedy and the sanctioning body are hard at work preparing the 2023 schedule, which could feature a unique race in the heart of Chicago.

Kennedy met with members of the media on March 10 to discuss his promotion to senior vice president of racing development and strategy. He explained that he will still work on the schedule for each season despite moving back to the competition side. He also teased some moves that NASCAR will make in the coming years as the Gen 7 era continues.

A key part of this discussion revolved around the rumored race on a purpose-built street course in the heart of Chicago. There have been ongoing discussions about the possibility of putting the Cup Series drivers on a unique course, and NASCAR even tested out a virtual version during an iRacing event on June 2, 2021, which James Davison won in dominant fashion.

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“We’re definitely continuing to consider all options from a scheduling standpoint,” Kennedy said during his media availability. “Chicago has been one of them, and I think that’s no secret from the iRacing event that we had last year there. That said, nothing to confirm at this point, and we’re still looking at a handful of different options on the table.

“Not just as we think about 2023 but as we think about ’24 and beyond and really trying to build out that road map for where we want to be in the future as a schedule. I think we’ve made some great strides over the past couple of years and more this year with the Coliseum and World Wide Technology Raceway, but we’ll continue to explore even past 2023 what that schedule could look like.”

The Schedule Could Become Public Earlier Than Normal

Cup Series

GettyNASCAR Cup Series drivers race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Kennedy acknowledged during the session that the goal in previous seasons was for NASCAR to release the schedule around April. The sanctioning body did not achieve this goal in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19 and the work involved with adding new venues to the schedule.

NASCAR released the 2021 schedule on September 30, 2020, near the end of the COVID-altered season. The delay was expected due as the sanctioning body continued to examine the changing guidelines and other factors.

The 2022 schedule, for comparison, became public on September 15, 2021. There were fewer guidelines to worry about, but NASCAR had to account for the addition of World Wide Technology Raceway in the Cup Series and multiple tracks in the Truck Series and Xfinity Series.

Kennedy explained during his media availability that the 2023 schedule will become public at an earlier date. However, NASCAR will still miss this April timeline as Kennedy expects a summertime release.

“I think, ideally, we get to a point where we’re announcing it before September,” Kennedy added. “But a lot of that really comes down to making sure all of our stakeholders are on board, and we have everything in place to have the right timing to make that announcement with the most impact.”

Heading Back to Los Angeles?

LA Memorial Coliseum

GettyNASCAR could return to the LA Memorial Coliseum in 2023.

NASCAR made history on February 6, 2022, by completing the first-ever Busch Light Clash inside of the LA Memorial Coliseum. This race featured performances by Pitbull and Ice Cube, a battle between Joey Logano and Kyle Busch, and very happy comments from Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s chief operating officer.

“When you look at this Next Gen car, all the pressure that was on, really the entire industry, all the long hours coming into this, I think a lot of us in the industry forgot that we’re in a pretty cool sport. It is fun to be a part of,” O’Donnell told media members after the Busch Light Clash on February 6, transcript courtesy of ASAP Sports Transcripts.

“This event delivered. I think it delivered on that. You saw it in the drivers, the industry, saw it with a lot of folks in the media. I think a lot of folks had fun. We’re going to learn. The Next Gen car really wasn’t a story, and I’m happy for that. This is probably the toughest test we could have on the track that we set up in terms of durability, beating and banging, driveline, different things. We’ll learn from that.”

Many others, whether they were drivers or fans, agreed that the first-ever race inside of the historic stadium was a success. Does this automatically mean that the Cup Series will return to the LA Memorial Coliseum ahead of the 2023 season? The answer is no.

Kennedy and the sanctioning body are still examining whether to return. They are examining data generated during the trip to Los Angeles and holding discussions. There is a deadline of May 6, so this decision will have to take place quickly.

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