Chicagoland Speedway (iRacing)
Although it’s tempting to lump the 1.5 mile oval with the bevy of so-called “intermediate” ovals that rose across the country in the 1990s and early years of the 21st century, Chicagoland’s layout is unique. It’s an oval that never truly straightens out thanks to a couple of kinks on the frontstretch and a backstretch that is one long, continuous curve. As a result, Chicagoland poses unique challenges, not just to those who drive it but to the engineers and mechanics who must fine-tune their cars to the track’s singular character.Since opening for business in 2001, Chicagoland established a rich lore including two of the closest finishes in IndyCar history with Sam Hornish, Jr. beating Al Unser, Jr. by .0024s in 2002 and Helio Castroneves pipping Scott Dixon by .033s in the 2008 season finale. Chicagoland has proven equally competitive for race cars sporting fenders, witness that fact that many a winner of the annual NASCAR Sprint Cup race started outside the top ten with Kevin Harvick (32nd) and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (25th) just two to make the turn into Victory Lane after starting deep in the pack.