NASCAR Cup Series: Gateway Predictions and How To Watch

Penalties overshadow this weekend’s NASCAR Cup Series action as the series returns to Gateway for the Enjoy Illinois 300.

The NASCAR Cup Series returns to World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway this weekend, but the most significant news comes before the on-track action from two major penalties handed down by NASCAR this week.

We’ll start with Chase Elliott, who was involved in an incident with Denny Hamlin from Monday’s race at Charlotte

After being squeezed up into the wall out of Turn 4 by Hamlin, Elliott immediately retaliated. He intentionally turned into Hamlin and caused a serious accident. Both drivers were unharmed, but earlier this week Elliott was dealt his punishment.

NASCAR announced that Elliott will be suspended for this weekend’s race at Gateway for causing the accident.

Having already missed six races due to an injury, Elliott now faces an even taller task as he looks to make a push for the playoffs. Hendrick Motorsports, however, announced they would be filing a formal request for a playoff waiver for Elliott.

L3-level penalty for Chase Briscoe, Stewart-Haas Racing

The biggest news of the week came from the penalties issued to Stewart-Haas Racing and the No.14 team.

NASCAR issued an L3-level penalty to SHR, resulting in a 120-point deduction in both owner and driver points for Chase Briscoe, a 25 playoff point deduction should he qualify, and a $250,000 fine and a six-race suspension for crew chief John Klausmeier.

What was the violation then? It turns out that NASCAR discovered after Charlotte that the team had fitted a counterfeit NACA duct on the car.

NACA ducts are single-source vendor-supplied parts that are not allowed to be replaced or modified in any way. The L3-level penalty for doing so is the highest level of penalty NASCAR can issue for violations, and is a major message sent by NASCAR.

SHR issued a statement, saying that “We had a quality control lapse and a part that never should’ve been on a car going to the race track ended up on the No. 14 car at Charlotte. We accept NASCAR’s decision and will not appeal.”

NASCAR Senior Vice President of Competition Elton Sawyer, in an interview for, said that “This is a severe penalty. We don’t take these lightly.” He urged teams to refrain from modifying single source parts and work on other areas to gain time such as pit stops and race strategy.

As NASCAR continues to deter anyone attempting to skirt the rules, we’ll see if teams get the message, or if they simply become more discreet moving forward. After all, if you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying.

The Track

World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway is a 1.25-mile egg-shaped oval in Madison, Illinois, just east of St. Louis. The oval track (part of a motorsports complex) has hosted several series since its opening in 1997, including IndyCar, NASCAR Xfinity Series, and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races.

It didn’t host its first NASCAR Cup Series race until just last year, however. That race was won by Joey Logano, but, it may be most remembered for the antics between Denny Hamlin and Ross Chastain.

The track itself is reminiscent of New Hampshire or perhaps Darlington. Like those two tracks, despite their length, drivers can still carry a good amount of speed, which makes for some fun racing.

The turns can be a bit tricky though due to the shallow banking, as Turns 1 and 2 have 11-degree banking while Turns 3 and 4 have nine-degree banking.

Sunday’s race will be 240 laps and cover 300 miles. Stage 1 will be the first 45 laps, while Stage 2 will cover the next 95 laps. Stage 3 will consist of the final 100 laps of the race. The Sunday forecast calls for 95-degree temperatures and partly cloudy skies, suggesting no delays for the weekend running.

World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway -

Playoff Points Standings

The playoff standings got a shake-up with this week’s penalties. Chase Elliot and Chase Briscoe sit in 28th and 31st respectively. Let’s see where things stand ahead of the weekend.

  1. William Byron, Hendrick Motorsports
  2. Ross Chastain, Trackhouse Racing
  3. Ryan Blaney, Team Penske
  4. Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports
  5. Martin Truex Jr., Joe Gibbs Racing
  6. Kyle Busch, Richard Childress Racing
  7. Tyler Reddick, 23XI Racing
  8. Christopher Bell, Joe Gibbs Racing
  9. Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing
  10. Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing
  11. Joey Logano, Team Penske
  12. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., JTG Daugherty Racing
  13. Brad Keselowski, RFK Racing
  14. Chris Buescher, RFK Racing
  15. Bubba Wallace, 23XI Racing
  16. Alex Bowman, Hendrick Motorsports


There isn’t much history to draw from with just one previous race at WWT Raceway. With things a bit up in the air, it’s never a bad idea to rely on this year’s frontrunners. Kyle Larson and William Byron are the two favorites for Sunday, and I’ll go with Byron to take the win after being the runner-up in Charlotte.

  1. William Byron, Hendrick Motorsports
  2. Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing
  3. Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports
  4. Ross Chastain, Trackhouse Racing
  5. Kyle Busch, Richard Childress Racing

How To Watch – NASCAR at Gateway (All times ET)

  • Practice: Saturday, June 3 – 10:00 a.m. – FS1
  • Qualifying: Saturday, June 3 – 10:45 a.m. – FS1
  • Enjoy Illinois 300: Sunday, June 4 – 3:30 p.m. – FS1

Featured image: Jeff Curry/Getty Images