Kaulig Racing Post-Race Report | Chicago Street Course
June 27, 2023
Grant Park 220
Justin Haley, No. 31 Benesch Camaro ZL1
Justin Haley started the Grant Park 220 from 37th after not being able to qualify due to unapproved adjustments.
Starting the race on rain tires, Haley lacked rear grip in his No. 31 Benesch Chevy. Haley pitted when the first caution came out on lap three, putting on rain tires with an air pressure adjustment. When the second caution flag fell on lap 12, Haley noted improvement, but needed track position. He would pit for fuel only under caution. Haley went on to finish the first stage in 25th before pitting on lap 21 for slick tires.
After switching to slick tires, Haley cracked the top 20 and made it as high as 15th before the caution came out on lap 30. Haley pitted once again for tires and fuel, while the majority of the field stayed out. He restarted 32nd on lap 33 before working his way up to 23rd, where he finished the second stage under caution.
After staying out at the end of stage two, Haley would take over the race lead to begin the final stage, but would need to save fuel if the remainder of the race were to go green. Haley continued to lead as more cautions fell throughout the final stage, leading a total of 23 laps. When a caution fell with eight laps remaining, Haley fought to keep his lead on the restart over the No. 91, who had 16-lap-fresher tires, but ultimately lost the battle for first. Haley went on to finish second, his best finish with Kaulig Racing.
AJ Allmendinger qualified 10th for the Grant Park 220. Prior to the start of the race, the field put on wet weather tires for the track conditions.
Allmendinger was 11th when the first caution came out on lap three. Allmendinger told the team he had no traction compared to the cars around him, and lacked rear grip. The team stayed out under caution, and Allmendinger made his way up to ninth by lap 10. The second caution came on lap 12, and the team opted to stay out as the track conditions were not ready for slick tires. By lap 19, Allmendinger made it up to eighth where he would finish stage one.
On lap 21, Allmendinger pitted under green to put slick tires on. As green flag stops cycled through, Allmendinger made his way back into the top 10, telling his team on lap 28 his car still lacked rear grip, as he took over seventh position on lap 29. Allmendinger went on to finish the second stage ninth as the caution came out on lap 44.
NASCAR informed teams under caution the race would be shortened by 25 laps due to darkness. The No. 16 team changed its strategy and came down pit road on lap 45. Allmendinger would restart 24th with 27 laps remaining. He made his way up to 15th when the caution came out on lap 49 for a multi-car wreck. Allmendinger avoided the wreck, but told the team he may have suffered minor front-end damage after being shoved from behind into the corner. On lap 52, the No. 16 Chevy restarted 19th after several cars in the wreck kept their track position. Allmendinger moved quickly up to 15th by lap 57 when another caution came out. After the restart, he continued to gain track position, making it up to 12th by lap 62. The handling of Allmendinger’s car began to fade, as he fell to 17th where he would finish the race after one overtime attempt.
The Loop 121
Daniel Hemric, No. 11 Cirkul Chevrolet
Daniel Hemric qualified ninth for The Loop 121.
In the opening stage, Hemric made it to sixth place before the first caution fell on lap five. Hemric’s lap times were faster than the No. 00 and No. 20 who were running first and second, respectively, before the caution flag fell. Hemric restarted sixth but was shuffled back to ninth on the restart. Crew Chief, Jason Trinchere told Hemric his strength was entering turn one. With five laps remaining in stage one, Hemric sat in seventh position and was told to focus on not overdriving the car. Hemric finished stage one in eighth position, earning three stage points.
In stage two, Hemric fought a loose car for a majority of the stage. The team elected to stay out while others came in to pit. Restarting eighth on lap 21, Hemric was back up to sixth in only two laps. Hemric had saved enough fuel that he did not need to pit during the weather-shortened race. The caution flag was displayed on lap 25 for lightning, and the race was official, despite being two laps short of halfway. Hemric finished the race in seventh position.
Chandler Smith, No. 16 Quick Tie Products Chevrolet
Chandler Smith qualified 16th for The Loop 121.
Smith quickly jumped multiple positions at the start of the race to move into 13th before the first caution. On the first restart, Smith took advantage of the city-traffic jam to crack the top 10, where he’d finish stage one.
Shortly after the start of stage two, the No. 34 spun to bring out another caution. Smith told crew chief Bruce Schlicker that his tires felt good. Schlicker told Smith to save as much fuel as he could during the caution period to open up a new strategy for later in the race.
The Loop 121 was red flagged 25 laps into the race, as lightning struck near the course. After the delay led to the postponement of the event until Sunday, the race was deemed official three laps short of the official midway point, due to torrential rain. Smith finished eighth, per the running order at the time of the red flag.
Justin Marks, No. 10 Jockey Chevrolet
Justin Marks qualified 12th for The Loop 121.
Marks’ day would end early, after a blown motor on lap five of The Loop 121, relegating him to a 38th-place finish.