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NASCAR makes Rule Book change ahead of Chicago return

NASCAR has issued an update to its Rule Book ahead of the return to the streets of Chicago, one that will potentially strengthen the field.

According to an update on June 5, "Cup Series points earners are NOW PERMITTED to enter the Chicago Street Course event" in the Xfinity Series.

This is a change from the inaugural race weekend in Chicago last season when NASCAR would not allow Cup drivers to compete in both races. Keeping the drivers limited to each series ensured that no one would have any advantage heading into the inaugural Cup race in Chicago.

This season, however, drivers will be able to compete in both events if they have a ride and sponsorship, and two drivers have already set their plans for the weekend.

Kyle Larson, who finished fourth in last season's Cup race in Chicago, will take part in the Xfinity race this season. He will drive the No. 17 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet after piloting the entry to a win at Circuit of the Americas in March.

Shane van Gisbergen, who won last season's Cup race in Chicago while making his NASCAR debut, will be back to defend his win. SVG competes full-time in Xfinity, so he will already be on the entry list for the Saturday race. He will then compete in the Cup race.

The Xfinity race in Chicago last season featured 38 entries, the maximum number allowed in each Xfinity race. The majority of drivers were full-time in the series, but some guests took part while making one-off starts. This list includes Trackhouse Racing owner Justin Marks, who made his first Xfinity start since 2018.

The race did not unfold as planned due to inclement weather in the area. Cole Custer started from the pole and led the first 25 laps. He won the first stage and was in the lead with five laps remaining in the second stage when lightning brought out the red flag.

Xfinity teams were unable to restart the race on Saturday, July 1, so NASCAR postponed the finish to the following morning. However, rainfall and standing water disrupted these plans. NASCAR ultimately declared the race official and named Custer the winner.

"With standing water and flooding a significant issue at the race track and throughout the city, there was no option to return to racing prior to shifting to NASCAR Cup Series race operations," the sanctioning body said in a statement. "Throughout the entire planning process for the Chicago Street Race, our relationship with the City of Chicago has been strong and among the most valuable assets in reaching this historic weekend.

"In the spirit of that partnership, returning on Monday for the completion of a NASCAR Xfinity Series event two laps short of halfway was an option we chose not to employ. Based on several unprecedented circumstances, NASCAR has made the decision to declare Cole Custer the winner of the race."