NASCAR’s annual trip to Charlotte Motor Speedway for Memorial Day Weekend is in the past. As great as it is to witness each year, the weather wasn’t on our side. But this weekend NASCAR heads to the Midwest to World Wide Technology Raceway (aka Gateway) as we start our early daily fantasy racing research. The Craftsman Truck Series has raced here regularly, and the NASCAR Cup Series added it to the schedule and it’s produced some solid racing. Six drivers led at least 20 laps in this race a year ago. To find success with our daily fantasy racing lineups we will need to nail the race winner, those drivers that lead the most laps, and overall finishing position plays. Here is this week’s fantasy daily fantasy racing preview for the Enjoy Illinois 300.
2023 Enjoy Illinois 300 Daily Fantasy Racing Preview
Gateway is 1.2 miles in length and it is shaped like Darlington. However, it isn’t banked as high as Darlington and it races similar to tracks like New Hampshire, Phoenix, and maybe Richmond or Nashville. Analyzing the practice data this weekend will be vital when finalizing our daily fantasy racing lineups.
The Enjoy Illinois 300 will have 240 laps so we certainly want to consider building our fantasy NASCAR DFS lineups with two or three “dominators” in mind. Joe Gibbs Racing comes to mind as flat track specialists, as should 23XI Racing. Even the Fords showed life last week for the Coca-Cola 600 as Ryan Blaney was incredibly fast and don’t count out Joey Logano as he won this race last year. Hendrick Motorsports will need to show something in practice after a very poor showing in this race last year. Here are the drivers to have on your radar when constructing your daily fantasy racing lineups.
Daily Fantasy Racing Top Picks
Martin Truex Jr. (#19 Toyota)
This is the kind of track where Joe Gibbs Racing and 23XI Racing should thrive. It’s a shorter, flat track and these two teams know how to set their cars up here. Truex has had more speed in his car of late. He didn’t lead a single lap at Charlotte last week but still had 33 fastest laps and he finished third. Prior to that, he led a total of 292 laps between Dover, Kansas, and Darlington. He finished sixth here a year ago and led 42 laps, and at New Hampshire, he finished fourth and led 172 laps. Nailing the right leaders will be crucial when building our daily fantasy racing lineups.
Kyle Busch (#8 Chevrolet)
It almost feels dirty to list a Chevy in this section after how bad they were at Gateway a year ago. Last year with JGR, Busch finished second in this race with 66 laps led and 46 fastest laps. He is a driver that we’ll need to keep an eye on during practice and qualifying simply because we want to confirm that there’s speed. But Busch is such an experienced driver that even if the setup is off, he can relay to his team what changes need to be made. I’d be surprised if the Chevys struggled for a second consecutive year at this track.
Tyler Reddick (#45 Toyota)
Both 23XI Racing cars are coming off phenomenal weeks at Charlotte where they both finished in the top five. Reddick led 28 laps and had 37 fastest laps, but just couldn’t gain the track position he needed for the late restarts. But I really like his upside this week because Kurt Busch was in this car last year and drove it to a top-three finish with some laps led as well. He’s had speed in this aero package this year and there’s certainly some win equity that should be accounted for. He wasn’t good in this race last year, but he’s better suited for our daily fantasy racing lineups this year with Toyota.
Wouldn’t Bet Against Them For Daily Fantasy Racing
Joey Logano (#22 Ford)
The only reason Logano isn’t in “The Top Picks” section is because Penske and the Fords have struggled in this package. However, they had speed at Charlotte evidenced by Ryan Blaney’s win and the overall dominant speed he flashed. But the weather and track conditions will be different for this race. Penske hasn’t looked good at the shorter, flat tracks this year. But there’s something to be said for this team since collectively they led 60 laps in this race a year ago with 62 fastest laps. At worst, Logano should be mentioned as the defending champion of this race.
Denny Hamlin (#11 Toyota)
For what it’s worth, Hamlin could very well be listed in the previous section. But if you listened to his podcast, he did say his neck was sore after his wreck last week. He should still suit up and race, but he’ll be hurting a bit. He had speed in this race last year but was caught in a wreck with Ross Chastain. But like we said in Truex’s section, this is a track type where JGR can thrive.
Bubba Wallace (#23 Toyota)
Any given week, Bubba can certainly go out and blow up a fantasy NASCAR DFS lineup. There is a lot of variance when you roster Bubba. But he’s on quite a run lately. If you include the All-Star race at North Wilkesboro, he’s finished in the top five in four straight races. Overall, he’s better on the intermediate tracks, but this team and organization are nailing the setups lately and I expect both 23XI Racing cars to have speed in practice and qualifying.
Daily Fantasy Racing Potential Sleepers
Corey LaJoie (#9 Chevrolet)
That’s right, Corey LaJoie in the 9-car for Hendrick Motorsports! What a time to be alive! Do I genuinely believe LaJoie has much win equity? No, but with Chase Elliott being suspended for this race, LaJoie has an opportunity to show what he can do in elite equipment. This is a chance he’s been very vocal about and we’ll see what he can do. LaJoie enters this weekend with some momentum with Spire Motorsports. In his last four points-paying races he has three top 20 finishes gaining a total of 35 spots in place differential, and those races were run in NASCAR’s intermediate package.
A.J. Allmendinger (#16 Chevrolet)
The Chevys were awful at Gateway a year ago, most notably Hendrick Motorsports. They completely missed on the setup here. However, the Kaulig Racing cars (Allmendinger and Justin Haley) finished tenth and 14th respectively. Allmendinger started P35 and grabbed a top-ten finish without being in the car for practice or qualifying. Last year he was running the Xfinity Series road course race in Portland (which he won). Then caught a flight to St. Louis for this race. In three of the last four races in this aero package, he’s finished 18th or better gaining 44 spots of place differential. He’s been a gem for NASCAR DFS players lately.
Carson Hocevar (#7 Chevrolet)
Filling in LaJoie in the 7-car for Spire Motorsports will be Carson Hocevar. Hocevar is regarded as an up-and-coming prospect in the Craftsman Truck Series. Hocevar ran some Xfinity Series races in the month of May, finishing sixth at Darlington and eighth at Charlotte. But this will be his Cup Series debut and the good news is that he knows this track already. The big concern with Hocevar is going to be how he can handle the NextGen car. It requires quite a learning curve. Zane Smith, a fellow Truck Series driver, made his Cup Series debut at Gateway last year and started P32 and finished 17th. Perhaps Hocevar can make for a similar position differential option for our daily fantasy racing lineups.