Facts & Stats Friday: NASCAR Cup Series Enjoy Illinois 300 at World Wide Technology Raceway
2 June 2023
By Bob Francis, Managing Editor
Go Full Throttle Racing News
MADISON, IL — The NASCAR Cup Series returns to the World Wide Technology Raceway for this weekend’s Enjoy Illinois 300 presented by TicketSmarter this Sunday, June 4 at 3:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio — the 15th race of the 26-race regular season.
World Wide Technology Raceway, located in Madison, Illinois just outside St. Louis, was originally built as a drag strip and road course in 1985 and was originally known as St. Louis International Raceway Park. In 1994, new ownership acquired the track. The existing tracks (drag strip and road course) were demolished over the course of 1995–1996 and a new oval speedway and drag strip were constructed.
The current 1.25-mile oval that is World Wide Technology Raceway has a unique shape and different degrees of banking in each set of turns. The backstretch is confined to run parallel with Illinois Route 203, making Turns 1 & 2 a tighter radius than Turns 3 & 4. Turns 1 & 2 have similar characteristics to New Hampshire Motor Speedway while Turns 3 & 4 are similar to Phoenix Raceway. The track’s egg shape mimics the legendary Darlington Raceway. The facility now has more than 700 acres welcoming fans this weekend.
The first NASCAR national series race held at World Wide Technology Raceway was a NASCAR Xfinity Series race held on June 26, 1997 — Elliott Sadler won the event.
Though this will only be the second NASCAR Cup Series event this weekend at the 1.25-mile track, World Wide Technology Raceway has hosted 15 NASCAR Xfinity Series races from 1997–2010 and 22 NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series races from 1998–2010 and 2014–2022.
Team Penske’s Joey Logano is the defending winner of the inaugural NASCAR Cup Series race at World Wide Technology Raceway — one of 19 different tracks the Connecticut native has won at in the series. Eight other drivers entered this weekend have won in either the NASCAR Xfinity Series or the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series at World Wide Technology Raceway, led by Kevin Harvick with three NASCAR national series wins at the 1.25-mile track (NXS 2000, 2001 and NCTS 2010); followed by Christopher Bell (NCTS 2016), Kyle Busch (NXS 2009), Ross Chastain (NCTS 2019), Justin Haley (NCTS 2018), Brad Keselowski (NXS 2010), Martin Truex Jr. (NXS 2004) and Bubba Wallace (NCTS 2014) each with one victory.
All the on-track action begins for the NASCAR Cup Series this weekend with practice and Busch Light Pole Qualifying on Saturday, June 3 at 10 a.m. ET on FS1.
NASCAR to ring in 100th National Series race in Illinois
NASCAR has a long history in the state of Illinois dating back to 1954, and this weekend the sport will run its 100th and 101st national series races in the state of Illinois at Word Wide Technology Raceway.
Returning for the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series race, the Toyota 200, on Saturday, June 3 (race 100) and the NASCAR Cup Series’ second installment of the Enjoy Illinois 300 presented by TicketSmarter this Sunday, June 4 at 3:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (race 101). World Wide Technology Raceway is the fifth different track in the great state of Illinois that has hosted a NASCAR national series event.
The NASCAR Cup Series first competed in the state of Illinois on Saturday, July 10, 1954 at Santa Fe Speedway, a half-mile dirt track located in Willow Springs, IL. The event had 23 cars entered and was scheduled for 200 laps (100 miles). Dick Rathman won the race driving a 1954 Hudson for car owner John Ditz.
It wasn’t until two years later that the NASCAR Cup Series returned to the state of Illinois, only this time it was at the famous Soldier Field in Chicago. On July 21, 1956, the NASCAR Cup Series saw 25 cars compete at the half-mile paved track inside the stadium for 200 laps (100 miles). The race was won by NASCAR Hall of Famer Fireball Roberts driving a Ford for car owner Pete DePaolo.
The NASCAR Cup Series has also competed at Chicagoland Speedway from 2001–2019 for 19 races.
In total, there have been 99 NASCAR national series races in the state of Illinois among five different tracks. The NASCAR Cup Series has made 22 starts in the state of Illinois and has competed at four of the five tracks.
Breakdown of the NASCAR National Series races in Illinois (All-Time)
Blaney becomes 10th different winner this season, sixth to knockout big winless streak
And just like that another large winless streak is snapped. Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney hustled to a crown jewel win in a rain-delayed Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway becoming the 10th different winner in the NASCAR Cup Series this season. Blaney also conquered a winless streak that had reached 59 races. He is the sixth different driver this season to snap a winless streak of 25 races or more, joining Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (199 races), Martin Truex Jr. (54 races), Denny Hamlin (33 races), William Byron (30 races) and Kyle Busch (28 races).
A total of 16 active drivers currently have winless streaks that date prior to the start of the 2023 season.
As the most recent winner in the NASCAR Cup Series, Ryan Blaney jumps off the winless list this season and has secured his spot in the Playoffs for the seventh-time in his career (2023, ’22, ’21 ’20, ’19, ’18, ‘17). This year, the North Carolina native has posted one win (Charlotte), four top fives and eight top 10s. And to boot, Blaney is ranked second in the series driver standings, just one-point behind standings leader and Trackhouse Racing driver Ross Chastain.
As the series heads to World Wide Technology Raceway for the Enjoy Illinois 300 presented by TicketSmarter this Sunday, June 4 at 3:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, watch for Ryan Blaney to continue to ride his wave of success. In last year’s inaugural Cup Series event at WWTR, he finished in the top-five (fourth) and led 12 laps. Loop Data also has him ranked in the top five in several pre-race categories: Average Running Position (6.780, third-best), Driver Rating (118.2, second-best), Fastest Laps Run (38, second-best), and Quality Passes (52, second-most).
Playoff Bubble: Just five postseason spots still open following Charlotte
Rolling into World Wide Technology Raceway this weekend, 10 different drivers have won in the NASCAR Cup Series this season. With a spot secured for the driver point standings leader without a win, currently occupied by Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain, that leaves just five spots available in 16-driver field to make the postseason.
The 10 drivers that have earned a spot in the Playoffs by virtue of their wins this season are William Byron, Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson, Ryan Blaney, Martin Truex Jr., Christopher Bell, Tyler Reddick, Denny Hamlin, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Joey Logano.
Ross Chastain regained the points lead in the NASCAR Cup Series following Dover Motor Speedway and has held the top spot since, but he is winless and currently only has a one-point advantage over Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney in second.
The five drivers currently occupying Playoff spots on points are: 12. Kevin Harvick (+157 points over postseason cutoff), 13. Brad Keselowski (+113), 14. Chris Buescher (+87), 15. Bubba Wallace (+46), 16. Alex Bowman (+15).
It didn’t take Alex Bowman long to bounce back into Playoff contention. He returned from injury last week at Charlotte with a Playoff waiver and was ranked 17th in points. After posting a 12th-place finish at Charlotte, he has now jumped to 16th, up 15 points over Joe Gibbs Racing’s rookie Ty Gibbs in 17th — the first spot outside the Playoff cutoff.
Not far behind Bowman in the points are also Trackhouse Racing driver Daniel Suarez in 18th (-20 points), and Corey LaJoie in 19th (-38 points).
In last season’s WWTR Cup race Bowman finished 13th, Suarez finished 23rd and LaJoie finished 36th due to engine failure. This weekend will be Ty Gibbs’ first appearance in the NASCAR Cup Series at World Wide Technology Raceway.
Four of the drivers that finished in the top-10 in the NASCAR Cup Series race at World Wide Technology Raceway last season are still looking for their first win of 2023 — Aric Almirola, Erik Jones, Ross Chastain and AJ Allmendinger.
NASCAR Cup Series Late Breaking Updates
Corey LaJoie to pilot №9 for Hendrick Motorsports at WWTR — Following the announcement that Hendrick Motorsports’ driver Chase Elliott would be suspended for this weekend’s NASCAR Cup Series race at World Wide Technology Raceway, the organization has tapped Spire Motorsports’ driver Corey Lajoie to drive the №9 Chevrolet this Sunday.
“We are grateful to Corey for stepping in and to the team at Spire Motorsports for making him available,” the Hendrick Motorsports statement said this week.
This season, Lajoie has put up one top five and an average finish of 19.1 in 14 Cup Series starts.
In last season’s NASCAR Cup Series race at World Wide Technology Raceway, Lajoie finished 36th (last) in the event due to engine failure driving the №7 for Spire Motorsports.
Carson Hocevar to make NASCAR Cup Series career debut at WWTR for Spire Motorsports — With Corey Lajoie getting the opportunity to drive the №9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet in replace of a suspended Chase Elliott, Spire Motorsports has called upon rising NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series star Carson Hocevar to hop behind the wheel of the №7 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet at World Wide Technology Raceway to make his series career debut.
Though this will be Hocevar’s series track debut, he has made three starts in the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series at the 1.25-mile track posting one top-10 finish (eighth in 2021).
Milestone Watch: Brad Keselowski to make 500th career Cup start — This weekend at World Wide Technology Raceway, RFK Racing’s Brad Keselowski will become the 46th different driver to make 500 or more NASCAR Cup Series career starts.
Keselowski has had quite the career in his previous 499 NASCAR Cup Series starts, putting up one Cup Series Championship (2012), two Championship 4 Round appearances (2017, ‘20), 10 Playoff appearances (2011, ’12, ’14, ’15, ’16, ’17, ’18, ’19, ’20, ’21), 35 wins, 142 top fives, 239 top 10s and has led over 9,000 laps.
This weekend, Keselowski will look to become just the third driver to win on his 500th NASCAR Cup Series career start, joining Richard Petty (July 12, 1970 at Trenton) and Matt Kenseth (September 22, 2013 at New Hampshire).