NASCAR By the Numbers: Enjoy Illinois 300

I’ve switched the article from cash and tournament plays to core plays and large field tournament plays. Core plays will be both cash plays and drivers I’m using in tournaments. I switched to large field tournament plays because I wanted to get more high-end ceiling low floor options in the article. Always open to feedback, so feel free to reach out to me.

This weekend we head to World Wide Technology Raceway for the Enjoy Illinois 300. Gateway is a 1.25-mile track, and last year was the first time we’ve run a Cup Series race on this track. With this track being over a mile, we’re not running the short track package this weekend. This is the same package and tire we ran at Gateway last season. Teams also ran this tire at North Wilkesboro, Phoenix, and Richmond this season. There is no perfect comp for Gateway; it’s a unique track. I’ll look at Nashville/Gateway from last season, Richmond/Phoenix from this season, 2023 data, recent speed, and a few other things when building lineups this weekend. The biggest difference between Richmond/Phoenix is this package should promote a little more passing. This track has multiple grooves, and we should have some passing on Sunday.

The stages are 45, 95, and 100, which is a total of 240 laps. We have a unique first stage this week and won’t have a green flag pit stop in that stage. With 240 laps, we’re looking at 108 fastest lap points and 60 laps led points on DraftKings. On FanDuel, we’re looking at 24 laps led points and 24 laps completed points. Last season there were 10 cautions for 53 laps, and 31 cars finished on the lead lap. There were five drivers that led at least 25 laps. Group A was faster in practice as the track continued to heat up, so keep that in mind when looking at the practice data. I’ll be building two and three dominator teams. If I build one dominator teams, it would be focusing on Kyle Busch, Ryan Blaney, Denny Hamlin, or Martin Truex Jr.

2022 Gateway Optimal – Kyle Busch (12th), Joey Logano (7th), Martin Truex Jr. (13th), AJ Allmendinger (35th), Erik Jones (21st), Justin Haley (28th) – $49,700 – 371.4 – 2 Dominators

DraftKings – Starting Position on the Left, Potential Finishing Position on the Top

FanDuel – Starting Position on the Left, Potential Finishing Position on the Top

Core Plays

Kyle Larson – Starting 22nd – DK: $11,300 – FD: $14,000 – Larson continues to be one of the strongest cars this season. He struggled in qualifying, and it led to a 22nd starting position. He had top ten pace in practice. This team continues to be strong on pit road, and with the speed, I think he has the upside to finish top five. He’s going to be a popular play, and in cash games, I’m just going to take the floor.

Kyle Busch – Starting 1st – DK: $9,800 – FD: $12,000 – I think you could play KB, Hamlin, Blaney, Truex, or Logano in cash games this weekend. Kyle Busch was the strongest car at Gateway and Nashville last season. He only ran 20 laps in practice, but they were better every time he went back out on the track. I’m not concerned about him not having a long run and could see him dominating this first stage. I think his ceiling is 100+ laps led and 30+ fastest laps with a top five finish.

Michael McDowell – Starting 21st – DK: $5,700 – FD: $5,800 – McDowell was the practice darling this week and will likely be popular on DraftKings at this price point. He has the second-best 10-lap average in practice and ranked inside the top five in overall lap times. He finished 18th here last year but ranked top 15 in speed. He finished 13th at Nashville with top 15 speed as well. McDowell has top ten upside, and he’s going to have top 15 speed.

Tournament Targets

Denny Hamlin – Starting 3rd – DK: $10,500 – FD: $12,500 – Hamlin had the best pace on the long run-in practice and has the upside to dominate this race. With 150ish dominator points, nailing the one to two dominators will be the make-or-break thing this weekend. Practice correlated a lot last season, and with Hamlin the best car in practice, it’s hard not to be overweight on him. He had a lot of speed at this track last season before Chastain had a run-in with him. Hamlin has the upside to win this race.

Ryan Blaney – Starting 2nd – DK: $10,100 – FD: $11,000 – Blaney was finally back in Victory Lane last weekend and comes into this weekend with a confidence boost. Blaney had the second most fastest laps and the second highest driver rating in this race last season. Despite being in Group B, Blaney had good speed in practice. He backed that up with a second-place qualifying position. I’m going to be overweight on Hamlin, Blaney, KB, and Logano as my main dominators this weekend.

Joey Logano – Starting 6th – DK: $9,400 – FD: $10,000 – Logano had a lot of speed in practice and was putting down some of the best laps early. They came in and made some adjustments before he made a longer run. The raw speed is there for this team, and Penske seems to have some pace again this weekend. Logano had the third-best driver rating on his way to winning this race last season. He had the third most fastest laps in that race, and I like his overall ceiling for this weekend.

Value Play

Erik Jones – Starting 31st – DK: $6,300 – FD: $6,200 – I don’t think you’ll need to go this low on FanDuel, but Jones makes for a great value option on DraftKings. Jones had a lot of pace at Gateway last season and he finished 11th at Nashville. He had top ten speed in practice but went out early in qualifying. I think he’s one of a few drivers that have 15+ place differential upside.

Potential Dominators

Kyle Larson (Could potentially get there without dominator points)
William Byron
Christopher Bell (Could potentially get there without dominator points)
Denny Hamlin
Martin Truex Jr
Ryan Blaney
Kyle Busch
Ross Chastain
Joey Logano
Tyler Reddick
Kevin Harvick

Image Credit: Getty Images

Stevie gives an in-depth look on three cash game drivers, three tournament drivers, and two value plays. “I’m going to make sure it’s the best Fantasy NASCAR article in the industry” – Stevie. This article will be posted after qualifying each weekend.

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About the Author

  • Stephen Young (stevietpfl)

  • The long-time host of the popular Morning Grind, Stephen Young is also one of the top NASCAR, NFL, NBA and MLB analysts in the industry. The RotoGrinders lead NASCAR analyst is a multiple time finalist for the Fantasy Sports Writer Association Racing Writer of the Year. He has qualified for multiple live finals.

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