CHICAGO — The Cup Series will not return to Road America next year, a NASCAR executive confirmed Tuesday.
The inaugural Chicago street course race will replace Road America on the Cup schedule next year. The Chicago event will be Sunday, July 2, 2023 on NBC. The 2.2-mile course will feature 12 turns, racing around Grant Park and along Lake Shore Drive.
Road America had hosted the Cup Series the past two years on its 4.048-mile course in Central Wisconsin. Last year’s Cup race there was held before one of the largest crowds at Road America. This year’s crowd did not appear to be as large but appeared healthy.
“Unfortunately, it won’t be back but I’ve had a long-standing relationship with them,” said Ben Kennedy, NASCAR senior vice president of racing development and strategy. “Just because we’re not going back in ’23 doesn’t mean that we’re not going to be back there in the future.”
Asked if dropping Road America from the Cup schedule — no mention was made of the Xfinity Series status at the track next year — Kennedy said:
“For us, it’s not a financial decision. This is going to be a significant investment to build up the infrastructure (in Chicago) and develop a temporary course here. So for us, that really wasn’t a huge part of our calculation.
“It’s more so for us being in a downtown location, a major market like Chicago and then again, doing something for the very first time. We’ve never built a temporary track inside a stadium before. We did that at the LA Memorial Coliseum earlier this year. We’ve never done a street course race before and we’re going to do it here in Chicago next summer. I think there’s a number of great reasons for us to being here in Chicago and really creating something special for our fans.”
Leaving Road America, a move that was foreshadowed in recent weeks, was something Tyler Reddick hoped would not happen.
The idea of a street course has been really exciting,” said Reddick, who won at Road America, earlier this month. “… It seems like Chicago could work, so I’m excited for it. I just hope we don’t lose a track that is also really good for us, too.”
Mike Kertscher, president and general manager of Road America, issued a statement: “Change is never easy, but change is often the catalyst for improvement. At Road America, we embrace change, and we are consistently improving our facility and events to enhance the experience for everyone. We understand NASCAR’s efforts to improve the sport while introducing it to new fans, and we look forward to welcoming them back to America’s National Park of Speed in the future.”