Saturday, July 20, 2024

Flooding ends The Loop 121 shortly before halfway

Mother Nature must not be a fan of NASCAR competing on street circuits. After the final thirty laps of the Xfinity SeriesThe Loop 121 were postponed to Sunday due to lightning, severe flooding in the morning and tight scheduling with the Cup Series event have forced the sanctioning body to cut short the former despite not reaching halfway.

When a race is impacted by weather, NASCAR typically attempts to get as much racing in until it crosses the halfway point, and would postpone to the soonest possible day if the laps have not hit that mark. The Xfinity race had only completed 25 of 55 laps, meaning lap 27 would be the midpoint, prior to the delays and eventual cancellation of the remainder.

Cole Custer, who led all twenty-five laps from the pole, was declared the winner as the race leader. It is his second win of 2023, both coming on road courses after Portland in June.

Although it came due to extenuating circumstances, the race is the first in NASCAR’s national divisions without a lead change since the Xfinity Series’ fall Richmond round in 2014 when Kyle Busch never relinquished the top spot for all 250 laps. Joey Logano also led flag to flag at the series’ Bristol spring stop the following year, though he started second.

“With standing water and flooding a significant issue at the race track and throughout the city, there was no option to return to racing prior to shifting to NASCAR Cup Series race operations,” reads a NASCAR statement. “Throughout the entire planning process for the Chicago Street Race, our relationship with the City of Chicago has been strong and among the most valuable assets in reaching this historic weekend. In the spirit of that partnership, returning on Monday for the completion of a NASCAR Xfinity Series event two laps short of halfway was an option we chose not to employ. Based on several unprecedented circumstances, NASCAR has made the decision to declare Cole Custer the winner of the race.”

While exceptionally rare, NASCAR has cut short races before halfway due to weather in the past; since 2020, races that are unable to reach the advertised distance can be called either midway or the end of Stage #2 depending on which happens first. The 2020 Truck Series event at Kentucky is the latest instance, completing 70 of 150 laps before lightning struck; that race’s winner Sheldon Creed finished eleventh in The Loop 121, having had to work his way from the back after crashing in qualifying despite a second-place effort.

As the rulebook stipulates for such situations: “If NASCAR determines in its sole discretion that unforeseen circumstances prevent the completion of the advertised distance or make it impractical to continue or complete the Race within a reasonable time after it has been stopped and provided the halfway distance has been reached or surpassed by the Race leader or following the completion of Stage 2, whichever occurs first, the Race will be considered officially completed as of the last lap completed by the Race leader prior to the Race halt. The finishing positions will be determined per the Double-File or Choose restart positions.”

Even though Chicago did not complete the second stage, NASCAR elected to award full stage points to the top ten finishers anyway.

The decision to call the race also falls under NASCAR’s “Except in Rare Instances” clause, which states that “on occasion, circumstances will be presented that are either unforeseen or are otherwise extraordinary, in which strict application of the NASCAR Rules may not achieve this goal. In such rare circumstances, the NASCAR Officials, as a practical matter, may make a determination regarding the conduct of an Event, the eligibility of a Competitor, or similar matters that are not contemplated by or are inconsistent with the NASCAR Rules, in order to achieve this goal.”

Race results

Finish Start Number Driver Team Manufacturer Laps Status
1 1 00 Cole Custer Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 25 Running
2 3 20 John Hunter Nemechek Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 25 Running
3 6 7 Justin Allgaier JR Motorsports Chevrolet 25 Running
4 7 25 Brett Moffitt AM Racing Ford 25 Running
5 5 21 Austin Hill Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 25 Running
6 8 18 Sammy Smith Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 25 Running
7 9 11 Daniel Hemric Kaulig Racing Chevrolet 25 Running
8 16 16 Chandler Smith Kaulig Racing Chevrolet 25 Running
9 10 48 Parker Kligerman Big Machine Racing Team Chevrolet 25 Running
10 25 26 Kaz Grala Sam Hunt Racing Toyota 25 Running
11 2 2 Sheldon Creed Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 25 Running
12 13 50 Preston Pardus Pardus Racing Chevrolet 25 Running
13 17 88 Miguel Paludo JR Motorsports Chevrolet 25 Running
14 32 4 Kyle Weatherman JD Motorsports Chevrolet 25 Running
15 18 36 Alex Guenette DGM Racing Chevrolet 25 Running
16 26 24 Parker Chase Sam Hunt Racing Toyota 25 Running
17 29 02 Blaine Perkins Our Motorsports Chevrolet 25 Running
18 14 1 Sam Mayer JR Motorsports Chevrolet 25 Running
19 31 27 Jeb Burton Jordan Anderson Racing Chevrolet 25 Running
20 37 51 Jeremy Clements Jeremy Clements Racing Chevrolet 25 Running
21 19 35 Alex Labbé Emerling-Gase Motorsports Toyota 25 Running
22 11 44 Sage Karam Alpha Prime Racing Chevrolet 25 Running
23 23 8 Josh Berry JR Motorsports Chevrolet 25 Running
24 15 98 Riley Herbst Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 25 Running
25 24 39 Ryan Sieg RSS Racing Ford 25 Running
26 33 6 Brennan Poole JD Motorsports Chevrolet 25 Running
27 34 78 Anthony Alfredo B.J. McLeod Motorsports Chevrolet 25 Running
28 22 07 Spencer Pumpelly SS-Green Light Racing Chevrolet 25 Running
29 21 31 Parker Retzlaff Jordan Anderson Racing Chevrolet 25 Running
30 30 9 Brandon Jones JR Motorsports Chevrolet 25 Running
31 20 43 Ryan Ellis Alpha Prime Racing Chevrolet 25 Running
32 27 53 Brad Pérez Emerling-Gase Motorsports Chevrolet 25 Running
33 35 38 Joe Graf Jr. RSS Racing Ford 25 Running
34 38 28 Brent Sherman RSS Racing Ford 25 Running
35 4 19 Connor Mosack Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 25 Running
36 36 92 Josh Williams DGM Racing Chevrolet 22 Running
37 28 34 Andre Castro Jesse Iwuji Motorsports Chevrolet 16 Accident
38 12 10 Justin Marks Kaulig Racing Chevrolet 3 Engine
DNQ 91 Dexter Bean DGM Racing Chevrolet
DNQ 45 Jeffrey Earnhardt Alpha Prime Racing Chevrolet
DNQ 08 Joey Gase SS-Green Light Racing Ford
DNQ 74 Dawson Cram CHK Racing Chevrolet
DNQ 66 Dexter Stacey MBM Motorsports Toyota
Italics – Competing for Rookie of the Year