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NASCAR Cup Series News & Notes – World Wide Technology Raceway

After an outstanding debut last season, the NASCAR Cup Series will be returning 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 Cup Series

Next Race: Enjoy Illinois 300 Presented by TicketSmarter

The Place: World Wide Technology Raceway

The Date: Sunday, June 4

The Time: 3:30 p.m. ET

The Purse: $7,425,976

TV: FS1, 2 p.m. ET

Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 300 miles (240 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 45),

Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 140), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 240)

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)

Track NameCityCupXfinityTruckCombinedFirst Year
Chicagoland SpeedwayJoliet192411572001
World Wide Technology RacewayMadison11522381997
Chicago Motor SpeedwayCicero00222000
Santa Fe SpeedwayWillow Springs10011954
Soldier FieldChicago10011956
Totals22393599

 Confluence Festival a nice weekend addition for fans at WWTR

This weekend’s NASCAR festivities at World Wide Technology Raceway, will be accompanied by the Confluence Festival, a showcase of innovation, talent and live entertainment that represents the region’s communities coming together in welcoming NASCAR to World Wide Technology Raceway.

Already announced 14-time Grammy-nominated Dierks Bentley will headline, playing a full set in what will be his only St. Louis appearance this year. He leads an impressive award-winning lineup:

Flo Rida – Five-time Grammy nominee Flo Rida is an American rapper and singer who 2007 breakout single “Low” was number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for over ten weeks and remained in the top ten for over 20 weeks. Having sold over 80 million records worldwide, he is one of the best-selling musical artists in the world.

Brothers Osborne – Brothers Osborne is an American country music duo consisting of brothers T.J. Osborne and John Osborne. Eight-time Academy of Country Music Award winners and six-time Country Music Award winners, they won the 2022 Grammy Award for “Best Country Duo/Group Performance”.

Brittney Spencer – Brittney Spencer is an American Country singer/songwriter from Baltimore. Brittney has released three singles; “Sober & Skinny”, “More Than Perfect” and “Wake Me Up (A Fever Dream)”. She was nominated for Country Music Television Music Awards “CMT Digital First Performance of the Year” in 2022 for her performance of “Sober & Skinny”.

Bailey Zimmerman – From nearby Louisville, IL, Zimmerman is one of country music’s most exciting new voices with the 2022 release of his debut LP, Leave the Light On – the biggest streaming country debut of all time and the most-streamed all-genre debut of the year.

Rissi Palmer – Rissi Palmer was one of the first African American female country artists to chart on country radio with singles, “Country Girl,” “Hold On To Me,” and “No Air.” She has independently released a Christmas single, her first children’s album, Best Day Ever and an EP titled The Back Porch Sessions. Her most recent album, Revival, has been critically hailed as her most personal and uplifting work to date. While she made her mark in Country Music, she is equally at home in R&B music, bringing the entire spectrum of popular music to bear on music she calls “Southern Soul.”

Tim Dugger – A NASCAR favorite, country singer-songwriter Dugger returns for the 2023 Confluence Music Festival. After surpassing 15 million career streams, he released his new single, “Buy a Bar” this past February.

“We are so excited to deliver an impressive second-year experience for racing fans as they return to World Wide Technology Raceway,” said Curtis Francois, Owner and CEO of World Wide Technology Raceway. “We have so much to celebrate and live music entertainment is an important part of how we want to attract and delight our guests at the Enjoy Illinois 300.”

Special performances by BeBe Winans, Jazz St. Louis, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, Madison High School Marching Band and The Muny Teens will put an unforgettable and uniquely local stamp on the event.

Regional acts scheduled to perform over the weekend include: Blinded By Stereo, DJ Mahf, DJ Big D, Dr. Zhivegas, Dylan Triplett, Funky Butt Brass Band, Lamar Harris, Malena Smith, Red and Black Brass Band, St. Boogie Brass Band, The Bobby Ford Band, The Mighty Pines – lead singer Neil Salsich is competed on NBC’s The Voice!, Vella La Vella, and We Are Root Mod.

“We were intentional about developing a line-up that is exciting, representative and true to the mission of Confluence,” said Kwofe Coleman, President and CEO of the Muny, and producer of the Confluence Festival. “Sharing the platform of Enjoy Illinois 300’s remarkable reach among local and national artists from various genres is a special opportunity to celebrate the concept of together and offer race-goers and attendees an unforgettable experience.”

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.

DriverTrackDateRaces SinceAttempts Since
Justin HaleyDaytona07/07/1914083
Michael McDowellDaytona02/14/218585
Brad KeselowskiTalladega04/25/217676
Aric AlmirolaLoudon07/18/216464
AJ AllmendingerIndianapolis RC08/15/216233
Austin CindricDaytona02/20/224949
Alex BowmanLas Vegas03/06/224739
Chase BriscoePhoenix03/13/224646
Ross ChastainTalladega04/24/224040
Daniel SuárezSonoma06/12/223434
Kevin HarvickRichmond08/14/222626
Austin DillonDaytona08/28/222424
Erik JonesDarlington09/04/222323
Bubba WallaceKansas09/11/222221
Chris BuescherBristol09/17/222121
Chase ElliottTalladega10/02/221913

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 (+146 points over postseason cutoff), 13. Brad Keselowski (+102), 14. Chris Buescher (+76), 15. Bubba Wallace (+35), 16. Alex Bowman (+4).

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 ranked 17th in points. After posting a 12th-place finish at Charlotte, he has now jumped to 16th, up four points over Stewart-Haas Racing’s Chase Briscoe in 17th – the first spot outside the Playoff cutoff.

Not far behind Bowman in the points are Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate and Joe Gibbs Racing driver Ty Gibbs in 18th (-15 points) and Trackhouse Racing driver Daniel Suarez in 19th (-20 points).

In last season’s WWTR Cup race Bowman finished 13th, Briscoe finished 24th, and Suarez finished 23rd. 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, Etc.

Corey LaJoie to pilot No. 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 No. 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 No. 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 No. 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 No. 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).

NASCAR Championship Weekend returning to Phoenix Raceway in 2024 – NASCAR has announced that Phoenix Raceway will continue as host of NASCAR Championship Weekend in 2024.

Four champions will be crowned over three days, Nov. 1-3, 2024, as the best drivers from the NASCAR Cup Series, NASCAR Xfinity Series, NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series and ARCA Menards Series West will compete for season supremacy at Phoenix Raceway.

“This honor is a testament to our fans whose overwhelming support makes this a true championship-caliber venue,” said Phoenix Raceway President Latasha Causey. “They pack the grandstands, fill the hillside and create the best camping experience in all of NASCAR inside our breathtaking GEICO Gecko Campground. Now the onus is on us to exceed the already high standards we’ve set to continue building on this momentum and keep them coming back.”

The NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race completely sold out at Phoenix Raceway in 2021 and 2022, and only a limited number of seats remain for the 2023 NASCAR Championship Weekend at Phoenix Raceway, Nov. 3-5.

NASCAR Diversity Internship Program announces 2023 Class – NASCAR has announced its 22nd NASCAR Diversity Internship Program (NDIP) class welcoming undergraduate and graduate students to NASCAR. The class of 37 students completed orientation during the Coca-Cola 600 race weekend in Charlotte. Many in the group had the opportunity to experience their first NASCAR race, visit the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Hendrick Motorsports and the Motor Racing Network facilities.

The NASCAR Diversity Internship Program is a 10-week program that offers hands-on experience across various roles in the motorsports industry. NDIP provides practical, unique, hands-on experience in a variety of fields vital to the sport and business operations. Throughout the summer interns will receive mentorship, network with industry leaders and engage in a case study competition.

“This year we’re welcoming another exceptional class of college students eager to learn about our sport,” said Brandon Thompson, NASCAR’s Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion. “As a graduate of NDIP,

I know firsthand how crucial it is for students to have exposure to professional sports opportunities. We’re excited to welcome this year’s class and look forward to seeing them grow this summer.”

Launched in 2000, the highly competitive career development program has introduced over 500 college students to the NASCAR industry, and has grown to include several industry partners, providing a variety of career exposure opportunities. 2023 partners include Rev Racing, World Wide Express, 23XI Racing, Joe Gibbs Racing, Sonoma Raceway, Team Penske, Hendrick Motorsports and Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing.

NDIP is open to college students who are sophomores or above with a minimum 3.0 GPA representing the following races/ethnic minority classifications: Black or African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Latino or Hispanic, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander.

For the entire list of this year’s NDIP class, please visit NASCARMedia.com and the following: LINK

360° Fan Immersion Infield Experience awaits spectators at WWTR – Awaiting fans at the World Wide Technology Raceway is the all-new Gateway Garage Experience that enables fans to get up close and personal with the teams, cars and drivers, as they prepare to compete on the 1.25-mile oval. It’s the perfect combination of a party and NASCAR action. Passholders will have access to the following: pre-race opening ceremonies on-track; premium access to Saturday and Sunday Turn 1 concerts; tech inspection; driver Q&A’s; discounted food and beverage; free enhanced wi-fi; and the driver red-carpet walk. Fans in the Gateway Garage Experience will also have access to a NASCAR-approved viewing area behind the team pit boxes on pit road during the race. Other details include:

  • The speedway has lengthened the existing garage space to allow fans a close look at the crews, cars and NASCAR’s biggest stars preparing for races on the track.
  • The NASCAR Cup Series Drivers Meeting and VIP event space will now be held in a remodeled Clubhouse located adjacent to the garage area.
  • The adjacent Fan Zone has been expanded and reimagined, featuring infield seating as well as shade structures, soft seating, additional vendors and multiple food options.

The infield experience is part of a multi-phase $100 million renovation and expansion project that includes significant land acquisition and expanded guest accommodations, including the infield fan zone project.

“Our fans are going to love the intimate experience of the new garage access,” World Wide Technology Raceway owner Curtis Francois said. “This is just the latest example of our commitment to building a world-class entertainment venue, investing more each year, responding to what fans want and showcasing hospitality at every turn.”

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