It seems hard to believe considering the official time of its race was 3 hours, 10 minutes and 56 seconds. But from when the scheduled green flag was supposed to take place for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 400 at Chicagoland Speedway and when the checkered finally flew, it was nearly a 12-hour marathon.
The race was supposed to green shortly after 2:00 p.m. ET, 1:00 p.m. CT and local time. The first batch of rain and track-drying caused more than an hour delay before the initial green flag. Then of course, after 110 laps of racing, came the long delay of 5 hours, 10 minutes and 21 seconds before an eventual – and merciful – restart.
By that point in the night, past 10:00 p.m. ET and 9:00 p.m. CT, you wouldn’t blame the competitors, the media, or the fans who had stuck around through the delay for hoping that the race would run 24 or so more laps – to hit the half distance mark of 134 laps – and call it a night as an official day. Yet it was at that point the rain gods held off and the race ran to its conclusion, with several Chasers having issues and Joe Gibbs Racing’s pair of Chase-eligible Toyotas posting a 1-2 finish, led by Matt Kenseth.
The time was past midnight E.T. and 11:00 p.m. CT, and NASCAR had done an equivalent day to legendary 12 Hours of Sebring – except not racing for all 12 hours consecutively as they do in central Florida every March.
You don’t necessarily have the opportunity to appreciate endurance racing, and some of the competitions like Sebring, and like the 24-hour races in Daytona and Le Mans, from a casual NASCAR perspective until you see a day like today take place where it becomes a marathon thanks to adverse weather conditions.
And even so, 12 hours isn’t 12 hours because you have hours of pre-race festivities ahead of the race and all the post-race debrief afterwards.
It’s a very tired NASCAR press corps today, you’d imagine, and should realistically be a day of rest. The NASCAR community has earned it after the last week and a day.