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Chicagoland Speedway’s Tripleheader Action Awaits NASCAR Fans
- Updated: September 13, 2016
By Jerry Jordan, Editor
JOLIET, Ill. – Aside from Chicagoland Speedway’s proximity to the Windy City and all it has to offer, as the first race in The Chase for the Sprint Cup Series Championship, it’s a race no NASCAR fan will want to miss.
After last weekend’s fireworks brought the regular season to an end, the atmosphere and attitude going into Chicagoland are even more intense moving into Chicago. This must-attend, can’t miss race sets the tone for the remainder of the sport’s playoffs. Plus, if you have kids, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will be making the rounds throughout the weekend and since kids get in free to all Camping World Truck and Xfinity Series races there is no excuse not to attend, said track president Scott Paddock.
“Anytime you can welcome the NASCAR touring series and particularly the Sprint Cup Series to your venue and market that is a pretty big deal but when you are designated for the sixth year in a row to host the kickoff race in The Chase that is an incredible honor,” Paddock said. “It elevates the profile of your event and we will welcome fans from all across the country.”
Last year, Denny Hamlin, who is coming off a win at Richmond International Raceway, went into the race at Chicagoland playing hurt. He’d injured his ACL playing basketball but that didn’t stop him from getting out front and holding off teammate, Carl Edwards, on the final lap of the race with a .963-second margin of victory.
It was an exciting race in one of the largest media markets in the country, where the action didn’t go unnoticed.
“The reason NASCAR made the strategic decision they did six years ago in moving The Chase here was because they wanted to because they wanted to give it a bigger stage and they wanted to give it the platform it deserved,” Paddock said. “I think what we have seen in this market is that big events become even bigger when you are talking about markets like Chicago.”
Fans won’t just get the kickoff to the Sprint Cup Series Chase for the Championship, they will also see the final regular season races for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and the NASCAR Xfinity Series. So, it’s a tripleheader weekend with a lot on the line for drivers in all three of NASCAR’s top touring series.
“Candidly, we feel an additional degree of pressure because we know that how this event goes typically is a precursor to what happens in the remaining nine races of The Chase,” he said. “So, we want to do our part and hold up our end of the bargain to get The Chase off to the right start.”
And helping Paddock and his crew cater to the fans this weekend will be the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, who will be interacting with fans (young and old) all weekend long. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 celebrates the DVD release date for their latest movie, Out of the Shadows. It’s all part of NASCAR plan of attack in attracting newer and younger fans and making NASCAR something they want to be involved with. As well, part of that push includes free tickets for kids to NASCAR Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series races for the entire 10-race Chase.
“NASCAR, like every other sport out there, is looking to refill its fan pipeline and reach out to that younger generation and when you have an activation-savvy brand like, Nickelodeon, coming in that is going to bring an unprecedented level of kid and family interaction and engagement that is huge.”
And that is not all NASCAR is doing to attract younger fans, the NASCAR Acceleration Nation Experience, a 6,400-square-foot fun and learning area designed to entertain children and their parents with an interactive experience will be set-up in the fan midway. The goal is to let kids sit in the driver’s seat of a customized NASCAR Acceleration Nation stock car to learn more about the cars competing on the racetrack.
With Chicagoland Speedway being the newest track on the NASCAR circuit at just 15-years-old, they had the opportunity to see where other tracks did well or could have improved. That led them to create one of the most-unique infield fan experiences of any track. Paddock admits they took the best ideas and combined them at Chicagoland Speedway to give fans a great racing experience.
“A lot of the great learning and insight that born out of building other facilities went into building this one, for example, there is no bad seat in the house,” Paddock said. “A couple of years ago we asked how could we get fans colder to the stars that they love, how could we get them inside the ropes, under the tent, in a way that no other sport can do. It’s part of the fabric of NASCAR and part of what makes it unique, so we created the Infield Fan Zone where fans are now in the epicenter of action of the race weekend – in Victory Lane with the Sprint Cup Trophy, the Pace Car, viewing tech inspection and being adjacent to the red carpet watching the heroes they love.”
Chicagoland Speedway also stepped up the camping experience this year with a luxury experience that lets fans experience camping at its finest. Glamping, short for Glamorous Camping lets fans experience the sights and sounds of NASCAR all weekend long without the headaches of a hauling a trailer or the uncomfortable feeling of sleeping in a tent, Paddock’s crew created an area of luxury camping spaces where others do the work and fans get to focus on having fun.
“The camping site is set-up with a luxury tent, bedding and all the amenities and then you can leave and go home with no clean-up,” he said. “Unlike an NBA game or other professional sports where you show up right before tipoff, you watch the game and then you leave, as you know, our fans love to come and make a day out of it or a weekend out of it. So, by definition, they are looking to be engaged. So, when you come to our venue you see the lushness of our grounds and it is ideal for camping.”
Paddock said every seat at Chicagoland Speedway is great because, “if you are sitting in Row 1, you can see the entire racetrack, plus parents can bring their children to the Xfinity and truck series races for free,” so fans wishing they could see The Chase kickoff this weekend, all they have to do is go to www.nascar.com/tickets or call the ticket office directly at 1-888-629-7223.
“Once you get people out here the event experience is so unique and different than anything else they have experienced in sports you build that fan-avidity and you can build that at a very young age if you expose them to it in the right way,” Paddock said.