JOLIET – If area racing fans want to take part in a special experience involving this week’s playoff race in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, then Chicagoland Speedway definitely is the place to be Sunday.
For the first time, the local home of one of NASCAR’s regularly scheduled events during the regular season will play host to a viewing party for fans who want to get an up-close experience of watching another race from the media center in the infield.
This is the second race of the Round of 12 of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, and it will take place at Talladega Superspeedway, which is an International Speedway Corporation facility, just like Chicagoland Speedway. The 1000Bulbs.com 500 is scheduled for a 1 p.m. start Sunday.
Most race fans can’t get into the infield on race day and fewer are able to enter the media center. But those who want to attend the viewing party will be right in the middle of one of the a centers of activity at the track whenever NASCAR comes to town, which happened this year July 1 with the running of the Overton’s 400.
The media center is where a large number of reporters and photographers who cover the sport work during and after the races. It also is the site of post-race news conferences that feature the top finishers in every competition that takes place at the track.
“We normally host viewing parties at other locations, but this is the first time that we’re going to bring the fans right into the middle of the infield and make sure that the feel is as real as possible, and if this works, we’re going to continue to do it,” Chicagoland Speedway Director of Communications Denny Hartwig said.
“The event is only as successful as the support that we’re going to get from our fans, and our fans are great anyway, so we we’re hoping to light this thing on fire and to kick it off the right way in order to make sure that this is a regular event that we do.”
Fans can attend the event for free, but they’re encouraged to RSVP on a link on the track’s website. Gates will open at 11 a.m. with the race starting two hours after that. Space is limited for the event, so arrive early in order to assure a spot in the media center.
Chicagoland Speedway also is offering track parade laps in peoples’ own car before the race. Guests will be able to take two laps around the 1.5-mile track for a $20 donation per car and per trip to the facility’s R.A.C.E. Foundation. A cash bar will be provided, and there will be food options for purchase.
Guests can enter the facility at Gate 5 off of Laraway Road. They will then be directed to either park or take their laps on the track.
Twelve drivers remain in the competition, which has five more races left after this weekend with the championship to be determined Nov. 18 at the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.