Joey Hand ‘All Smiles’ After Chicago Street Course Top-Five

By Seth Eggert, Associate Editor

Veteran road course racer Joey Hand shined through the rainy conditions to score a top-five finish in the Grant Park 165 at the Chicago Street Course.

Joey hand shined through the rain in the nascar cup series at the chicago street course.
#60: Joey Hand, RFK Racing, Ford Mustang. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Nigel Kinrade Photography)

The Ford Multimatic Motorsports driver in IMSA’s GTD Pro Class returned to NASCAR Cup Series competition for the first time in two years. Driving RFK Racing’s Stage 60 entry, Hand was the only full-fledged road course ringer in the field on the only street course on the schedule. The Sacramento, Calif. native had fun competing in NASCAR once again.

“It was a great day, I am all (smiles),” Hand said. “That was a lot of fun. It is fun when you have a car that is going forward. RFK, this Stage 60 car and this group of guys and gals was awesome. We had such a good time together.”

Although the race weekend didn’t start as planned with a 38th-place qualifying effort, the conditions on race day quickly played into Hand’s favor. The 45-year-old quietly moved up the running order as teams opted for split strategies of wet weather Goodyear Racing tires versus slick tires. That split strategy reappeared as the race neared the end of Stage 2.

The two-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner stayed on wet weather tires while the leaders opted to make the switch. That gave Hand the Stage 2 win as the driver of the No. 60 Ford Mustang Dark Horse became just the 35th to win a stage in the Cup Series. The decision to stay on wet weather tires came from the fact that it was 2011 American Le Man Series GT champion’s first start of the season. Not competing for points or the championship, the RFK Racing driver had nothing to lose.

Hand kept Alex Bowman at bay on the restart. With time counting down to the mandatory race end, he made opportunities to pass difficult on the Hendrick Motorsports driver. Three laps into the final stage, Bowman finally snuck by the Ford Performance driver for the lead just before the final caution waved.

When the race restarted there were just a few minutes left before the time cutoff. In the final minutes of NASCAR’s first-ever timed race, the slick tires of Tyler Reddick and Ty Gibbs allowed the duo to get by Hand with ease. However, as the countdown clock hit zero, Hand cruised to take the checkered flag in the darkness-shortened race two laps later in fourth.

“We didn’t qualify well but I told them that we were way better than that,” Hand explained. “I laid in bed last night and dreamt about driving to the front. It was a lot of fun. I love those conditions where everyone has to find a different way and it isn’t set in stone what you are going to do.

“I have won a lot of races like that in my life. I thought there was a chance was going to win another one which was going to be huge. To run fourth, starting 38th, with this car, it was a ton of fun. has a ton of people here and we were in a Ford Mustang. What can you say. We went to the front and I am happy about it.”

Hand’s top-five was his first in NASCAR competition. It also marked the first time that the RFK Racing Stage 60 entry had scored a top-five finish. David Ragan finished 20th in the No. 60’s debut in the Daytona 500 at Daytona Int’l Speedway earlier this year.

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