NASCAR at Chicago results: Alex Bowman prevails in rain-delayed Grant Park 165 for first win of 2024 (2024)

Amid highly unusual late-race circ*mstances thanks to rain throughout the afternoon, Alex Bowman got to the front with a wet-weather tire strategy and then capitalized, winning the Grant Park 165 at the Chicago Street Course to earn his first victory of the 2024 season and the eighth of his NASCAR Cup Series career. Bowman's win ends an 80-race winless streak dating back to Las Vegas in March 2022, and it also puts him on the NASCAR playoff grid as the 12th different driver to win this season.

Due to heavy rainfall throughout the afternoon and a rain delay of more than an hour and a half creating a timed race to 8:20 p.m. local time, Bowman stayed out on wet weather tires when many of the leaders came to pit road to put on slicks before the end of Stage 2, then took the lead from veteran road racer Joey Hand when the field took the green flag to race to the finish in the final stage.

Bowman was at a disadvantage to the cars on slicks with the track drying out and his wet weather tires wearing, but an incident for Christopher Bell and an unforced error by Tyler Reddick on the last lap allowed Bowman to drive away and take the win.

Grant Park 165 unofficial results

  1. #48 - Alex Bowman
  2. #45 - Tyler Reddick
  3. #54 - Ty Gibbs
  4. #60 - Joey Hand
  5. #34 - Michael McDowell
  6. #47 - Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  7. #38 - Todd Gilliland
  8. #24 - William Byron
  9. #8 - Kyle Busch
  10. #12 - Ryan Blaney

After winning a career-high four races in 2021 and opening the 2022 season with a win in the first few weeks, Bowman had been well on his way to affirming himself as one of the top young drivers in NASCAR and continuing the winning ways of the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports teams. But injuries ended up setting back his ascension: A concussion suffered at Texas ended his 2022 playoff run and forced him to miss five races in total late in the season, and then a back injury suffered while racing sprint cars last April caused him to miss three races and derailed his 2023 season, where he missed the playoffs entirely.

"I broke my back, I had a brain injury, and we've kind of sucked ever since," Bowman told NBC Sports. "You start to second-guess if you're ever gonna get a chance to win a race again. The last one we won, we didn't really get to celebrate. We're gonna drink so much damn bourbon tonight. It's gonna be a bad deal. I'm probably gonna wake up naked on the bathroom floor again, but that's just part of this deal sometimes."

After a great statistical season so far that had seen him be one of just five drivers with double-digit top-10 finishes, Bowman entered Sunday's race with a 51-point advantage over Bubba Wallace for the last spot above the playoff cut line on points. That points gap is now a moot point as Bowman secures a playoff spot, but it had already been set to grow thanks to an incident between the two earlier in the race that created an issue on the cooldown lap after the checkered flag.

After Bowman spun Wallace while racing for position early in Stage 2, Wallace expressed his displeasure with Bowman on the cooldown lap by hanging a left into Bowman's car and putting him in the wall at low speed. Bowman expressed contrition over the incident, taking responsibility for the contact that cost Wallace a top-10 running spot, though he recovered to eventually finish 13th.

"I have to apologize again to the 23 guys. Just messed up, trying to get my windshield wiper on, missed a corner and ruined their day," Bowman said. "I hate that. I'm still embarrassed about it, but we have a trophy to take home, and know it means a lot to this team. They put me in position to win the race."

Bowman's eighth career Cup win also marks the first career victory for crew chief Blake Harris, who took over for Greg Ives as Bowman's crew chief starting in 2023.

Chicago Rain 2: Electric Boogaloo

After biblical levels of rainfall almost ruined the inaugural Chicago Street Race entirely, it had appeared Mother Nature wasn't going to wreak havoc on the event again in 2024, as clear skies and ideal conditions throughout the weekend had led to a much smoother overall event. That lasted right up until the engines fired for Sunday's race, when it began to rain and created a battle of changing track conditions and worsening weather.

After a light rain to start the day, NASCAR declared a wet weather start and allowed teams to change to wet weather tires for the start, but the track quickly dried out and made slicks much more advantageous compared to the wets. That was until towards the end of Stage 1 and into Stage 2, when the rain began to pick up and conditions became more akin to a pure rain race with spray and visibility becoming an issue.

Defending Chicago winner Shane van Gisbergen, used to rain racing from his time in V8 Supercars, seemed perfectly suited to the way the race was developing after taking the lead and winning the opening stage. But when Chase Briscoe spun entering Turn 6 in the wet, van Gisbergen's race would come to a sudden end. Briscoe's spinning car tagged van Gisbergen's in the rear, sending it at a bad speed and angle into the barrier at the exit of the corner, destroying his car and ending his race.

"I just sort of turned in, looked pretty good, and then just got smashed by someone. Gutting," van Gisbergen told NBC Sports. "We were in the lead for a lot of that race. It felt good taking off in the rain ... I felt like I was driving well within myself. It's a shame to be out so early, and it's a shame we couldn't have a proper crack at it at the end."

Following the Briscoe and van Gisbergen accident, heavy rain and deteriorating conditions forced a red flag of just over an hour and a half, putting the 75-lap race up against impending darkness and creating an unusual scenario. During the red flag, NASCAR announced the race would run until 8:20 p.m. local time, after which point there would be two laps to go with no overtime.

The time limit prompted strategy calls throughout the field, but for a moment it looked like the drivers who pitted for slick tires prior to the end of Stage 2 would end up prevailing. Christopher Bell fell by the wayside after getting spun in traffic trying to take third spot, but it then looked like Tyler Reddick would run Bowman down on the final lap after making up a massive amount of time coming to and just past the white flag.

That was until Reddick clipped the inside wall between Turns 4 and 5, breaking his momentum and slowing him down enough that he lost all the ground he had made up on Bowman on worn wet tires that had given up grip in dry conditions.

"I don't know, that puzzles me. I clearly just screwed up," Reddick told NBC Sports. "Trying to stay in the dry groove and I had more than enough of dry groove ... I cut the wheel a little too hard. Just not focused enough, I guess.

"I knew I was going to get to him. I knew the earlier I could get to him the more options I was going to have. It was going to get a little bit more slick off line beyond Turn 8. Just didn't even give ourselves a shot to race him, unfortunately, with that. Hate it."

The Hand-y Man Can

During a long and decorated road racing career, 45-year-old Joey Hand has earned a class win in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, 24 Hours of Daytona victories in both the DP and GTLM classes, and back-to-back GT wins at the 12 Hours of Sebring. Now, he's earned one more notch on his belt: A top-five finish in NASCAR in a race he had a chance at winning.

By virtue of being the first car to stay out on wet tires while many of the leaders came in for slicks at the end of Stage 2, Hand was able to pick up a stage win driving the third Stage 60 car for RFK Racing, then led the field to green for the final stage with less than 20 minutes of racing remaining.

Hand was able to hang onto the lead for several laps, but couldn't hold off Bowman's advance for long, with Bowman making the winning pass on Lap 51 of what ended up being a 58-lap race. Hand hung on to finish fourth, his best finish in eight career NASCAR races and his first since fall 2022 at the Charlotte Roval.

Hand's fourth-place finish is the best in team history for RFK Racing's Stage 60 car in just its third appearance since being started as a part-time team in 2024. The team had previously run the Daytona 500 with David Ragan and at Sonoma with V8 Supercars driver Cam Waters.

Race results rundown

  • At only 127.6 miles in total distance, Sunday's darkness-shortened race actually marked the second-shortest Cup Series race in NASCAR's modern era from 1972 onward. The only race shorter came at Watkins Glen in 1992, when Kyle Petty won a race that was shortened to 51 laps and just under 125 miles due to rain.
  • Call it the baby effect, as new dad Ricky Stenhouse Jr. continued to hit his stride just a few days after he and his wife welcomed new son Stetson. A sixth-place finish marks Stenhouse's third top-10 finish in his last four starts, giving him five overall for the year -- matching his output from all of 2022 and putting him just four away from his output from a playoff season a year ago.
  • Todd Gilliland had one of the best overall runs of his Cup career, running inside the top 10 for much of the day and as high up as third before earning a season-best seventh-place finish. Of Gilliland's three top 10s in 2024, two in a row have come on road courses after he previously ran 10th at Sonoma.
  • Finally, nothing went wrong for Kyle Busch. Amid an extremely eventful race, Busch finally had an afternoon where nothing particularly remarkable happened to him, as he stayed out of trouble and earned a ninth-place finish for his first top 10 since Kansas nearly two months ago.
  • Chase Elliott, who had been set to capitalize on a crash by Kyle Larson to take the regular-season points lead back over, lost several spots on the final lap after being spun out by Daniel Suarez, who went on to finish 11th as Elliott drove home 21st. The two were seen on pit road after the race having a frank, but not especially intense conversation over the contact. Thanks in part to that incident, Larson has managed to maintain an 11-point lead over Elliott despite finishing 39th.
  • One week after earning a second-place finish at Nashville, Zane Smith found the front once again when he stayed out on wet tires following the end of Stage 1, allowing him to lead three laps in total for his first laps led this season. Smith, who hadn't led a Cup race since leading three laps in last year's Coca-Cola 600, went on to finish 17th.

Next race

The city streets of Chicago give way to The Tricky Triangle, as the NASCAR Cup Series heads to Pocono Raceway for The Great American Getaway 400 next Sunday at 2:30 p.m. ET on USA.

NASCAR at Chicago results: Alex Bowman prevails in rain-delayed Grant Park 165 for first win of 2024 (2024)
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