UChicago Alumnus Making NASCAR Xfinity Series Debut in City He Used to Call Home

Chicago, buckle in.

Andre Castro, a University of Chicago alumnus, is making his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut this Saturday in Chicago.

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He’s used to street racing and skyline views, but stock cars will be a new one for him.

He said he’s going to have to get up to speed quickly.

“The event is only one day,” Castro said, “so that is pretty crazy in itself because I’ve never driven the Xfinity car before. I have 50 minutes of practice to get up to grips with the track, with the car and then have to do well enough in qualifying to make my way into the main race. The main race will be just about being patient and getting the best finish we can.”

With his team, Jesse Iwuji Motorsports, Castro was able to go to Charlotte, N.C., and drive the professional Chevy GM simulator to get an idea of what Saturday will be like.

“I got some good laps down there on this course,” Castro said. “They scan this course, so it was pretty much exactly what I’ll be driving. Because of that, I’ve got a leg up. I feel comfortable going out there for the first time. We’ll see. It’s always going to be different. When you have a temporary circuit, the barriers aren’t always going to be in the same place every time they put them up. It’ll be taking a few laps in practice just to see where everything is.”

The 12-turn, 2.2-mile street course will run on Lake Shore Drive, Michigan Avenue and South Columbus Drive.

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Castro went to school in Chicago for four years and grew up in New York City, so the skyline won’t be as big of a distraction as it could be for other drivers.

“The skyline’s pretty normal for me, but I will try not to get distracted by it,” Castro said. “But the main concern is going to be just being consistent and not hitting the wall. Even if you’re not distracted, it can be easy to make a mistake here.”

He’s got a fan club here in Chicago given his University of Chicago roots.There will be a Saturday watch party with the eRacing Association overlooking Turn 7.

“I’m super excited,” Castro said. “It’s a really cool opportunity that I’d never get the chance to do. I started college here in 2017 and at that point this idea was not even born yet. Never thought this would happen, but I knew I could jump at the chance.”

Gates for NASCAR’s Chicago Street Race will open at 9 a.m. Saturday and again at 9 a.m. Sunday.

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