NASCAR Cup Series

Advance to Victory Lane: Who can dethrone SVG on the streets?

Advance to Victory Lane: Who can dethrone SVG on the streets?

Editor’s note: Projections have been updated after Saturday’s practice and qualifying sessions.

The Cup Series is back in the Windy City for the highly anticipated Grant Park 165 (4:30 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN Radio, Sirius XM NASCAR Radio, NBC Sports App).

Shane van Gisbergen is the man to beat this weekend after his stellar performance on the streets last year. SVG opened the week as one of the betting favorites to win the Chicago Street Race, tied with Kyle Larson and Christopher Bell.

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While the Cup regulars will be getting their second bite at racing on a street course and are expected to close the gap to van Gisbergen, there’s a good chance it won’t be any easier to pass SVG this time. As a current NASCAR Xfinity Series rookie, the Kiwi driver has been gaining experience this season. He locked himself into the playoffs after winning back-to-back road-course races at Portland International Raceway and Sonoma Raceway — before capturing Saturday’s race in the Windy City. You also can‘t knock the fact his race craft on street circuits is more fine-tuned compared to the Cup field from his Australian Supercars career, which really prevailed when he was battling Justin Haley for the win last year.

So, who is SVG‘s biggest threat heading into the weekend?

Racing Insights initially projected Chase Elliott to take van Gisbergen’s street crown. Elliott continued his top-20 streak after a wild race at Nashville Superspeedway and seems to maximize his opportunities through chaotic races on a weekly basis. His road-course numbers in the Next Gen era are impressive, with a series-best seven top fives and an average finish of 9.62, second only to Chris Buescher’s 8.0. The only thing he‘s missing is a win. He had seven road-course wins before the 2022 season — could this be his weekend to break back into the win column on a road course?

After practice and qualifying, however, a Kyle Larson run to the pole switched things up a bit and Elliott’s No. 5 Hendrick teammate is now projected to win.

OTHER DRIVERS TO WATCH

TYLER REDDICK: One of the best road-course drivers at the Cup level, Reddick finished inside the top three in both stages and even jumped to the lead over Denny Hamlin on Lap 1 last year at Chicago.

CHRISTOPHER BELL: Bell was on a hot streak up until his incident last weekend at Nashville. He swept both stages last year on the streets and should be a factor again on Sunday.

CHRIS BUESCHER: Buescher has the most top 10s on road courses in the Next Gen era (12), meaning he’s due to break through soon. He’s also in the playoff picture on points but could use a win at this point in the season to solidify his postseason position.

MICHAEL MCDOWELL: McDowell earned a spot in the playoffs last year after winning on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. He finished seventh last year in the inaugural Chicago race and was runner-up at Sonoma this year.

JOEY HAND: Here’s your pick if you‘re looking for another upset win. Hand has a decorated endurance racing career, including an overall win in the 2011 Rolex 24 at Daytona, a 2016 victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and two wins in the 12 Hours of Sebring. Hand also appeared at all six Cup Series road-course races in 2022, so he has Next Gen car experience.

RACING INSIGHTS‘ PROJECTIONS FOR GRANT PARK 165

Racing Insights‘ advanced statistical formula includes current track, current track type, recent performance, team data and pit-crew data to arrive at a projected winner and full race results.

Finish

Car Number

Driver

1

5

Kyle Larson

2

9

Chase Elliott

3

45

Tyler Reddick

4

20

Christopher Bell

5

34

Michael McDowell

6

54

Ty Gibbs

7

17

Chris Buescher

8

16

Shane van Gisbergen

9

24

William Byron

10

11

Denny Hamlin

11

1

Ross Chastain

12

19

Martin Truex Jr.

13

99

Daniel Suárez

14

18

Kyle Busch

15

48

Alex Bowman

16

12

Ryan Blaney

17

13

AJ Allmendinger

18

23

Bubba Wallace

19

2

Austin Cindric

20

22

Joey Logano

21

6

Brad Keselowski

22

14

Chase Briscoe

23

38

Todd Gilliland

24

7

Corey LaJoie

25

77

Carson Hocevar

26

51

Justin Haley

27

41

Ryan Preece

28

3

Austin Dillon

29

47

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

30

71

Zane Smith

31

43

Erik Jones

32

42

John Hunter Nemechek

33

10

Noah Gragson

34

21

Harrison Burton

35

4

Josh Berry

36

15

Kaz Grala

37

31

Daniel Hemric

38

66

Josh Bilicki

39

60

Joey Hand

40

33

Austin Hill

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