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2023 Grant Park 220: Preview, Best Bets, Longshot Pick

NASCAR Cup Series faces a big unknown entering Sunday’s Grant Park 220, which will be held on a 2.2-mile, 12-turn circuit in the shadow of Chicago’s skyscrapers and just yards from the shores of Lake Michigan. It will be a first for the Next Gen car, and how it will handle on a city street circuit is a major question mark.

“Chicago is going to be very interesting,” said A.J. Allmendinger, whose past includes street course racing in IndyCars. “A street course takes me back to my roots of racing open-wheel and being at a lot of different street courses. I think it’s a venue that, if it’s put on right, we can have a great weekend there as an industry.

“It’s a race track that a small mistake can have a huge penalty when it’s that narrow and surrounded by concrete walls. Anything can happen, and we’re not really sure what to expect. Street racing is some of the most fun I’ve had racing in my life, so I’m looking forward to getting to Chicago and trying it out in a Cup car.”

Will there be ample passing zones for Cup cars in Chicago? NBC Sports analyst Dale Earnhardt Jr. said during a reconnaissance trip around the course that the racing surface actually seemed wider than he expected after first trying the iRacing simulation of the track.

GRANT PARK 200 The Place: Chicago Street Race The Date: July 2, 5:30 p.m. ET The Distance: 220 miles (100 laps) Defending Champion: Chase Elliott Cup Series Leader: Martin Truex Jr. TV: NBC Radio: SiriusXM NASCAR Radio


Chase Elliott (+500 at BetMGM) Time is starting to run preciously short for Elliott, who is in 25th place in the standings. He’s currently without a win – and without a spot in the playoffs. Elliott is racing into form, posting fifth- and fourth-place finishes the past two races and five top-7s in the past eight.

Martin Truex Jr. (+700) The series leader is red hot with a win at Sonoma the most recent of five career road-course victories. Truex is riding a four-race streak of top-5s, including a runner-up his last time out at Nashville.

Kyle Larson (+800) Larson is tied for the series lead in top-5s (seven) and in DNFs (five), and the inconsistency has him in ninth place in the standings. He’s also second in total laps led with 588. Larson opened at +700 and is second at BetMGM with 6.8 percent of the total winning bets backing him.

A.J. Allmendinger (+800) Never mind that Allmendinger failed to finish his three most recent street course races, all in 2013. The fact he has a vast amount of experience on them has caught the public’s eye, as Allmendinger is the book’s biggest liability, leading the field with 8.1 percent of the total bets and 19.4 percent of the money. He also has five top-10s in his past six road course races, and both of Allmendinger’s Cup Series victories have come on road courses.

Kyle Busch (+1000) A veteran with Busch’s experience should have a quick learning curve on an unknown circuit, and he does have three consecutive top-3 finishes at road courses. Currently fifth in the standings, Busch is tied for the series lead with three victories and 10 top-10s. He’s also the third biggest liability this week as Busch has drawn 6.6 and 9.9 percent of the outright winner action, respectively.

LONGSHOT PICK Michael McDowell (+2500) McDowell raced an IndyCar at Surfer’s Paradise in Australia in 2005, competed in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series at Long Beach in 2006 and drove at Trois-Rivieres in Quebec in the Grand American Road Racing Series in 2006. “I think going to a new course that nobody has any experience on — tricky and challenging — it’s going to play into the hands of guys that have done races like this, and that adapt quickly,” said McDowell, who has five top-10s in his past seven road course races. “We’re talking about the best drivers in the world, so they’re going to figure it out really fast. “I don’t think I have an ‘advantage.’ I just feel like my comfort level is a bit higher than the majority of the guys that haven’t seen a street course before. We think about this race as a race we need to go and win to get into the Playoffs. So that’s what we’re focused on.”

–Field Level Media (NASCAR Wire service contributed to this story)


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