“I think this track will do that” - Dale Earnhardt Jr. feels NASCAR’s Chicago race will be amongst the ‘toughest challenges’ for a driver

Dale Earnhardt Jr. in Chicago
Dale Earnhardt Jr. at the Chicago street course

With one month remaining for NASCAR's first-ever street course race, Dale Earnhardt Jr. took a test ride on the 2.2-mile track in Grant Park, Chicago. Junior drove in an SUV in regular traffic, exploring the track on Wednesday.

Although Earnhardt Jr. won't be participating in the NASCAR race, he predicts the street race to be a tough challenge for the drivers. Unlike a road course race, street circuit races require more precision and alertness from drivers.

Earnhardt Jr. said about the track after the test ride:

"We want to put drivers through some of the toughest challenges we can and I think this track will do that. There’ll be some guys that really like it. There will be some guys that find it really challenging and miserable."

Grant Park, Chicago, is gearing up to host NASCAR's most anticipated race of the year on the first weekend of July. The Windy City will host The Loop 121 NASCAR Xfinity Series race on July 1, followed by The Grant Park 220, NASCAR Cup Series on July 2.

Expressing his excitement for the race, Dale Earnhardt Jr. said to CBS2 Sports:

"I have long been excited about a street course race in NASCAR. I just didn't know when or where it might happen or if it would ever happen."

The street race will be a one-of-a-kind experience for fans as they get to see drivers hustle the next-gen cars on city roads. The weekend will also feature concerts by The Chainsmokers, The Black Crowes, Miranda Lambert, and Charley Crockett.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. predicts a 'messy' weekend in Chicago

NASCAR Chicago Street Race Press Conference
NASCAR Chicago Street Race Press Conference

With none of the NASCAR drivers having much experience in street-circuit racing, Dale Earnhardt Jr. predicts a messy weekend in Chicago.

The 2.2-mile track features 12 turns, with most of them being sharp left and right turns. Exiting these turns, drivers race on the Michigan, DuSable Lake Shore Drive, Columbus, and Balbo Drive to name a few streets.

Speaking to Marshall Harris, CBS2 sports director, Earnhardt Jr. said:

"Yeah, and messy is good in this instance. So it just really confirms the challenge of a street course, or any new course."

He added about the speed through the corners and the straights:

"This should be anywhere from 70 to 90 miles an hour through the turn. They'll be some breaking zones where they'll get below 50, maybe? But for the most part, like there are some very fast turns."

Mistakes made by the drivers will be punished instantly by the barriers in close quarters. The two-time Xfinity champion added:

"Drivers are gonna force each other into barriers. They're not going to move over and allow each other the room they're going to need. There's gonna be a lot of contested spots where drivers are gonna push each other into walls even unintentionally."

It will be quite a sight to see NASCAR drivers on a street course, in conditions completely opposite to oval racing.

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