By: Zach Catanzareti, Staff Writer
Sunday’s embattled The Loop 121 Xfinity Series from the Chicago Street Circuit has officially been called by NASCAR officials. With severe flooding on the rise in the surrounding areas, the “unprecedented circumstance” forced NASCAR to call the race after only 25 of 55 laps completed.
Cole Custer, the race’s polesitter, is declared the winner.
Following a flurry of lightning strikes Saturday afternoon from the city of Chicago, the race was initially pushed to 10 a.m. CT on Sunday morning, in hopes of completing the race’s final 30 laps. However, “significant and potentially life-threatening flooding” in the Chicago area, along with the scheduled Cup Series race at 5:05 p.m. ET, the race was put to rest.
“With standing water and flooding a significant issue at the race track and throughout the city, there was no options to return to racing prior to shifting to NASCAR Cup Series race operations,” NASCAR stated. “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 Monday for the completion of the 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.”
For Custer, the Stewart-Haas Racing driver scores his second win of 2023, with the first coming on the road course of Portland International Raceway last month.
“We definitely wish we could have run all the laps,” Custer said. “It sucks, we don’t want to win it this way, but we had a fast car and everyone knows that. They said it’s a felony to jump in the [Buckingham] fountain so we probably won’t be doing that!
“I just heard there was a lot of standing water. I’m sure all the Cup guys are praying the rain goes away. It’s wild enough when you’re by yourself in the dry. I can’t imagine 40 guys out there in the wet. It’s just about finding that limit, because when you step over that limit, you’re in trouble.”
Behind him is John Hunter Nemechek, who came home second for Joe Gibbs Racing. Justin Allgaier is third followed by Brett Moffitt, who scores only his third career top-five finish in on the Xfinity level. Austin Hill rounded out the top five.
Sammy Smith, Daniel Hemric, Chandler Smith, Parker Kligerman and Kaz Grala completed the top 10.