CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - JULY 02: Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, and Chris Buescher, driver of the #17 Fastenal Ford, race during the NASCAR Cup Series Grant Park 220 at the Chicago Street Course on July 02, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois.
Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

NASCAR's Top Drivers Sound Off About Issues on the Chicago Street Course

"If you hit that, you could get the car kind of out of shape pretty easily out there."

There is plenty to talk about following this past weekend's inaugural NASCAR street race in Chicago, whether it's the historic win that took place or all the weather obstacles the event faced.

One thing is for sure: The viewership and attendance for Sunday's Grant Park 220 did not disappoint. And it sure looks as if a return is well on the table for 2024.

All around, it was a success, and a lot of the drivers shared those thoughts. That didn't stop some of the sport's top drivers from offering suggestions about what they would do differently for the next race there.

When he spoke with the media, Chase Elliott sounded off about the manhole covers in the Chicago street racecourse.

"The only concerning thing I saw was just the manhole covers," said Elliott, who finished third in the race. "I know they had welded them, but there are a couple of places where it looked like the welds — whether it be from equipment running across them — like, they need to be redone. And I think a couple of them are going to get really used up more than others, so I would look at that. Because if one of those pops up a little bit, you're going to destroy something pretty bad."


He wasn't the only driver who saw the possibility of the manholes being an issue in the future. Austin Hill, Xfinity Series driver for Richard Childress Racing, said he saw the exact situation that Elliott mentioned occurring in Turn 5 of the course that could have caused issues for cars side by side through that section.

"It has a dip that kind of goes down into the track," Hill said. "So I think if you hit that, you could get the car kind of out of shape pretty easily out there."

Luckily, the manhole covers didn't cause any issues this year, but it is certainly something worth addressing if the event returns in 2024.

Denny Hamlin didn't quite have the weekend it appeared he was on his way to after sitting on the pole for the race in Chicago. But he wasn't disappointed by how the whole event unfolded, and he hopes NASCAR will do it again.

He did make one suggestion about tweaking the final turn, as the entry point to the pit road is a very tight section, and the Grant Park 220 saw a number of issues with driver communication.

Chris Buescher and Jenson Button offered plenty of evidence in the race to support Hamlin's observation.

Hamlin went on to address his thoughts.

"There's huge (crash) barrels there," Hamlin said. "With it being only a 40 mph corner, we probably don't need those huge barrels. And you could probably take one of those concrete barriers off the entrance of pit road — because there are no pit stalls for the first three stalls anyway — and move those barrels back 20, 25 feet. It would allow us to go through the final corner a little bit faster so we're not causing a huge stack-up with the cars that are pitting and the ones that are not."

It was a far-from-perfect event with all the weather issues, but the fans who came were treated to an incredible race — and it is clear this thing needs to stay. The ratings don't lie, as it was the most-watched race on NBC Sports in over six years.