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Local News

Race Fan Rally kicks off NASCAR weekend in Joliet

Four days of racing start Thursday

Henry Kodrick (left) talks to a fan about his 1974 Z28 Camaro Wednesday during the NASCAR Fan Rally in Joliet.
Henry Kodrick (left) talks to a fan about his 1974 Z28 Camaro Wednesday during the NASCAR Fan Rally in Joliet.

JOLIET – Kimberly Onsen started a long NASCAR weekend Wednesday at Race Fan Rally.

Onsen, of Coal City, was in downtown Joliet for the annual street festival that precedes four days of racing at Chicagoland Speedway.

“We are actually going to be there all four days,” Onsen said. “We have regular tickets for tomorrow. We have Hot Passes for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.”

The Hot Pit Pass will get Onsen up close to garages, haulers and Pit Road, with chances to see her favorite racers.

Some at Race Fan Rally had more relaxed plans for the weekend.

“Just hanging out and watching the race on TV,” Jenni Ward of Crest Hill said of her plans.

Still, Ward is a pretty big NASCAR fan.

She has a 10-year-old daughter named Danica and an adult son named Patrick. Put them together and you get the name Danica Patrick of NASCAR fame, which Ward said is a coincidence. But her daughter’s name was inspired by the racer.

“We just loved the name Danica,” Ward said.

Most of the people interviewed at Race Fan Rally had some kind of
NASCAR plans for the weekend – whether they were going to the track or watching the race on TV.

The big race is Sunday – the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Tales of the Turtle 400. The race is not only more than a mouthful to pronounce. It’s also the first race in what is the NASCAR playoffs. Chicagoland Speedway has had the first race in the “Chase for the Cup” series for eight consecutive years.

That ends this year, since the Joliet date on the NASCAR schedule changes to the first weekend of July in 2018.

The switch doesn’t bother Chris Blumke of Lockport.

“I kind of see why because this is such a big sports weekend in Chicago,” Blumke said.

The first-place Cubs host the St. Louis Cardinals at Wrigley Field this weekend. The Bears are away this Sunday, but have been
home on other NASCAR weekends. The PGA Tour even comes to the Chicago region this weekend for the BMW Championship at Conway Farms Golf Club in Lake Forest.

Chicagoland Speedway had some of its biggest crowds in the years the races were in mid-summer before being moved to September, track spokesman Denny Hartwig said.

“We’re actually excited about it,” Hartwig said. “It’ll be a nice change. Kids are home from school. We’re expecting a big family weekend.”

Don Kos of Rockdale and other NASCAR fans, however, said they like the cooler September weather.

Kos has tickets for the Xfinity Series 300 race on Saturday,

“We’ll probably be there all day,” Kos said. “We like to tailgate.”

• Thursday, 7 p.m.: ARCA Racing Series Scott 150
• Friday, 7:30 p.m.: Camping World Truck Series 225
• Saturday, 2:30 p.m.: Xfinity Series 300
• Sunday, 2 p.m.: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Tales of the Turtle 400

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