Sunday’s Camping World 400 at Chicagoland Speedway got off to a wet, windy, and rainy start. After just 12 laps of racing, thunderstorms in the area forced NASCAR to halt the event and place it under red flag conditions until the weather subsided.
Concerns about the weather were prominent on social media prior to the green flag, with questions also surrounding the noon local time start. Nevertheless, NASCAR elected to start the race as the storms appeared to be distant enough at the time. Pole winner Austin Dillon led the first seven laps before Jimmie Johnson, who started fourth, passed him for the lead. For Johnson, who has struggled in 2019 and is currently seventeenth in points, it is just his fourth race of the season in which he has led laps and the first since he led four in May’s Gander RV 400 at Dover International Speedway (coincidentally, a race also marred by rain).
Five laps later, with lightning within an eight-mile radius of the track, NASCAR chose to stop the race and order spectators to safety. At the time of the lap 12 red flag, Johnson led Kevin Harvick, Ryan Blaney, Dillon, and Kyle Larson. The National Weather Service also issued a thunderstorm warning for the Chicagoland area.
NASCAR Executive Vice President Steve O’Donnell explained the action on Twitter:
Despite the circumstances, the weather is expected to clear later in the afternoon. As Chicagoland Speedway has lights (which the sport has used in the past), provided the summer heat and track drying process contribute to the effort, it is possible that the remainder of the race be run on Sunday night rather than a Monday start as with other rained-out events in 2019. Otherwise, NASCAR will resume the race on Monday at 3 PM Eastern.