After all that went on last weekend, and earlier this week, we turn our attention to the Enjoy Illinois 300. A relatively new race on the schedule, at least for the Cup Series, Gateway is one of the more unique tracks on the schedule. While it is a newer race, what can we take from the last 2 races and what can we take from similar tracks for this weekend? How are we looking at the practice and qualifying results? What are the race trends we can use to build NASCAR DFS lineups with? All that plus my favorite drivers to play for the Enjoy Illinois 300 at Gateway in this week’s NASCAR DFS playbook.

What Tracks Compare To World Wide Technology Raceway?

Things are a bit different this week with just two races at Gateway in the Cup Series to pull from. So in a case like this, what do we do? We’re going to look at tracks that compare favorably to Gateway. World Wide Technology Raceway, the official name, is a 1.25-mile flat track that has two different ends to it in terms of radii of corners. So with that being the case, what tracks are we looking at this week? In the Next Gen era the tracks that have races most like Gateway have been Richmond, Phoenix, and New Hampshire while we can also sprinkle in a bit of Nashville.

Race Trends For Gateway

In the first two Cup races here, there have been some interesting trends that have started. The first one that’s interesting is that 70% of drivers to finish in the top-10 have started P12 or better. Two of the other three drivers in each race have started P21 or worse. The other trend that’s notable is that there have been at least 8 incident cautions a race in each of the first two races. That many pit stops are all chances for passing to happen and in some cases penalties to happen too. Given that passing has typically been tough here, look for teams to use pit strategy to move their way up through the filed more than on track. The other thing about that many cautions is that it doesn’t result in a ton of long runs under green with just 240 laps in the race in total.

Enjoy Illinois 300 Practice and Qualifying Results

Below are the practice and qualifying results from Saturday. All drivers practiced in one session so the speeds ranks across long run metrics do hold water as the track conditions were the same for everyone.

DriverAvg. Prac to QualQual1-Lap5-Lap10-Lap15-Lap20-Lap25-Lap
Michael McDowell-9191299  
Austin Cindric-226324  
Ryan Blaney132231  
Christopher Bell-24845   
Tyler Reddick054117531
Denny Hamlin06157421 
Brad Keselowski-671313    
Bubba Wallace1856161053
Ty Gibbs59356622
Kyle Busch-2101410    
William Byron-611172212   
Joey Logano11121113  
Kyle Larson-913241725   
Alex Bowman-214221611   
Corey Lajoie-515161528   
Ross Chastain916798765
Chase Elliott-71718312619  
Austin Dillon-11183325    
Martin Truex Jr1019108    
Carson Hocevar102012141084 
Justin Haley62111242316107
Erik Jones-14223536    
Chase Briscoe-523302827   
Ricky Stenhouse Jr72419231411  
Derek Kraus62525191717  
Chris Buescher026233321   
Noah Gragson9273127191496
Daniel Hemric028293222   
Josh Berry16292020131274
Harrison Burton-1302834    
Daniel Suarez1131211820   
Ryan Preece143232261815118
John H. Nemechek233343029   
Cody Ware63436352418  
Todd Gilliland7352729    
Zane Smith1936262115138 

NASCAR DFS Lineup Strategy For Gateway

So given what we’ve talked about above, and what you saw in the podcast, how are we constructing rosters? Presuming the trends hold, we’ll see most of the laps led coming from drivers starting in the top-10 starting spots. That means we want probably two drivers, if not three starting P12 or better with the rest being PD upside plays. We haven’t seen a ton of trouble with cars being lapped in the previous two races, likely a product of all of the cautions, so drivers starting toward the back aren’t in much risk. Unlike at other shorter flatter tracks, passing deeper in the field can happen. The other thing we should keep in mind is to get a bit weird with roster building because practice was held Saturday morning and the race is Sunday afternoon when it’s much hotter. Cars who didn’t quite have the practice we thought they might may show up quite racy on Sunday and vice versa.

Top Drivers To Play

Top Salary Drivers

Denny Hamlin

Hamlin has been fast everywhere this year and this week appears to be no different. He’s got a top-five car based on practice and P6 in qualifying. There’s only been one driver better than Hamlin in the 12 similar races in the Next Gen era based on top-fives, top-10s, and driver rating and that’s Truex. At this price though we need him to lead the most laps and likely finish P3 or better.

Ryan Blaney

It appears that the entirety of the Team Penske trio has shown up this weekend. Blaney has speed in the 12-car as he averaged P2 in practice across multiple metrics. The finishes here haven’t really shown well despite him leading chunks of laps in each of the first two trips to St. Louis. Starting P3 and with the speed he has in the 12-car, he could be a threat to be the lead dominator of the race given they are unproven drivers at the front of the grid when the green flag drops.

Martin Truex Jr.

The record in similar races is just too good to not include Truex in the write up. In the 12 races in the Next Gen era for Truex, he has 9 finishes of P7 or better. That includes two wins. The consistency is off the chart for Truex and that’s mainly why we’re playing him. Though having some PD upside is nice too as he practiced about 10 spots better than he qualified in the 19-car.

Mid Salary Drivers

Joey Logano

Logano has a win here previously. That’s obviously the headliner for him. But the other headliner is the speed he had at practice as well; leading several metrics. We talked about his track history and similar race history on the podcast before practice as well. That race history for Logano includes a stretch with four P4 or better finishes in the last five similar races.

Ty Gibbs

Gibbs has really shown up on the shorter tracks in the Cup Series even if the final finishes don’t fully show that. He has the speed once more in the 54-car and will start in a prime spot to be a contender all of Sunday. Could we a see a Bristol type showing from Gibbs? Possibly, but even without being a dominator, he’ll be a threat for a top-five and in the mid-tier that’s all we need long with a handful of fastest laps.

Josh Berry

He is the short track specialist, of sorts, for the soon-to-be-defunct SHR. This is the style of track that he cut his teeth on. While the qualifying spot doesn’t show that, the practice speed does. In Berry’s four similar races in the Cup Series, he’s posted an average finish of 12.3 and started P30 or worse in three of those four races. That’s encouraging for Sunday given his starting spot of P29.

Value Salary Drivers

Austin Cindric

How long has it been since Cindric has been this big of a factor heading into a race? Perhaps the SHR closing and knowing there could be drivers capable of taking his job has lit a fire under him. Whatever the reason, he showed up with top-five speed in practice and qualifying on Saturday. If the speed holds, he could lead a chunk of laps early and perhaps get back to the lead mid-race as well. Truthfully if he only hangs onto a top-five finish that’s likely enough value at this price to justify playing him.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

While he crashed out in last year’s race, he did so after spending 99.5% of the race in the top-15. The speed is there in the 47-car once more to see him challenge for another such run, though this time finish it. While it is true that he has just 3 top-20 finishes in the 12 similar Next Gen races, two of those have come in the last four such races not including him getting credit for the strong run here last year.

Justin Haley

Haley has made a trend of moving up well here in the last two races here, nabbing top-16 finishes each race. The move to Rick Ware hasn’t hurt his speed either as we can see above that he’s one of the faster practice drivers on Saturday. If we get another top-15 finish from Haley, that’s more than enough at this price tag.

Zane Smith

This one isn’t just because he’s starting last, though that doesn’t hurt. It’s also because he’s been faster than he’s gotten credit for in previous similar races this year. Smith also moved up quite well as a fill in driver in the first Cup race here in 2022. The speed was there for Smith to flirt with a top-20 finish which would be big time value at this price.

Player Pool

$ Tier {{pos.alias}}


{{}} {{}}
DraftKings {{player.fantasy.price.value[8]}}-
Fanduel {{player.fantasy.price.value[6]}}-