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NASCAR Enjoy Illinois 300 Outright Picks & Betting Analysis

The NASCAR Cup Series continues Sunday as drivers head to Madison, IL, outside of St. Louis. Formerly known as Gateway Motorsports Park, this will be the Cup Series’ first time at World Wide Technology Raceway. NASCAR did have an event here back in 1997, but that was Xfinity Series. However, drivers with recent Truck Series backgrounds may have a slight edge, as this track has been on their schedule regularly since 2014.

What to Expect?

It’s not often we get basically a blank slate. No driver is really that much better off than the other. So what can we expect from the new track? Here’s what wrote ahead of Sunday’s race.

NASCAR Enjoy Illinois 300 Outright Picks & Betting Analysis
James Gilbert/Getty Images/AFP

“The unique shape of the track should pose a challenge for the new Next Gen car, featuring 11 degrees of banking in turns one and two, and 9 degrees in three and four,” said the post. “The first winner for the Xfinity Series was Elliott Sadler in 1997, and in 1998 Rick Carelli won the first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race.”

At the end of the day, it’s a 1.25-mile track, but if the turns the way NASCAR’s website says they are, it’ll be interesting to see what kind of speed they can generate in the straightaways.

Who Races Well on Similar Tracks?

While no driver will have any Cup Series experience ahead of Sunday’s Enjoy Illinois 300, we can get a hint as to who may do well here. Intermediate tracks are classified as any track over a mile in length, not including Talladega or Daytona. The tracks that fit this mold are Atlanta, Darlington, Homestead (Miami), Kansas, Las Vegas, Charlotte, Texas, and Nashville.

While he’s had a less-than-stellar last two seasons, Kevin Harvick (+2000) leads all active drivers with 20 wins on such tracks and second in laps led. However, Harvick showed great signs last week at Charlotte where he placed third. Earlier this season at Darlington Harvick placed fourth despite having started 35th.

However, it’s been Denny Hamlin (+800) who’s had success on these tracks as of late. In 43 such races since 2019, Hamlin has 18 top-five finishes and eight wins. Hamlin enters with the third-lowest NASCAR lines at +800 and has done well in recent weeks. He almost took the checkered flag in Texas back on May 22, but finished second before winning at Charlotte last week; both intermediate tracks. We cashed on Hamlin being the top-finishing Toyota last week, so we’ll likely have him on the card again.

Who Are the Favorites?

Almost per usual at this point, Kyle Larson enters as the betting favorite at +700. Since 2019, Larson trails only Hamlin in wins at intermediate tracks with five over 30 races. That mark is perhaps even more impressive considering he had to sit out a year in that stretch and they all came last season.

Usually, the betting favorite doesn’t end up on my card. Larson has typically been around +550 or so the past few weeks, but at +700, there might be enough meat left on the bone to put him on the betting card this week.

Kyle Busch enters tied for the second-lowest NASCAR betting at +800. Busch has as many career wins on intermediate tracks as Hamlin, but outpaces him in laps led. While it’s only a matter of 18 laps, Busch is the leader among all active drivers with 6,261 laps led over Kevin Harvick’s 6,243.

He has 116 top-10 finishes at intermediate tracks all-time in 205 races. He’ll make a push late, but Busch hasn’t had a win on a track like this since Kansas back in early May of 2021.

Fellow Toyota driver Martin Truex Jr. will also likely be in the mix, as his 12.7 average finish is the second-best among active drivers. But at +900 for someone who also hasn’t won since early May of 2021 on an intermediate track, Hamlin will be the only Toyota I play.

Has Anyone Raced Here?

Gateway Motorsports Park, now World Wide Technology Raceway, became an annual stop on the Truck Series schedule in 2014. This means that there are some drivers that came up through those ranks that have ran here before and may have a leg up on some of the competition.

One of those drivers is Ryan Blaney. Currently, fourth in the Cup Series standings, Blaney raced here in the Truck Series back in 2014 with a seventh-place finish. He’s currently listed at +1000 for Sunday.

There are a handful of drivers who have won here too. Back in 2014, Bubba Wallace won here when he was still racing in the Truck Series. Now a part of Michael Jordan’s racing team, he enters at a whopping +8000. For one of just a handful of drivers who have raced any level of NASCAR races here, let alone win one, this is incredibly too high.

Cole Custer is in a similar situation. He placed sixth in the 2014 Truck Series race at WWTR before finishing first the next year. That’s enough for me to want to back Custer at +20000.

Christopher Bell also won at WWTR back in 2016 and ran well again in 2017 with a sixth-place finish. While his Nascar odds aren’t as juicy as Wallace or Custer’s, the +1400 is enough to make me feel good about taking a chance on him.


Kyle Larson +700 to win
Christopher Bell +1400 to win
Bubba Wallace +8000 to win
Cole Custer +20000 to win