For the first time in series history, the NASCAR Cup Series rolls into World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway.
The St. Louis area will get its first experience with the sport’s premier series after hosting Xfinity Series races from 1997-2010 and Camping World Truck Series races since 1998, returning every year except 2011-13.
Get up to speed on the newest addition to the Cup schedule here:
MAKE LAPS AND TAKE NOTES
Teams will get a bit more track time than usual this weekend.
NASCAR Cup Series teams will have a full 50-minute practice session Friday (5:05 p.m. ET, FS1) as drivers and teams get familiar with the 1.25-mile flat oval. That deviates from the typical 20-minute sessions teams have received at other, more familiar circuits on the schedule where cars were split into two groups for practice.
SET THE STAGE
While teams won’t be split into groups for practice, there will be Groups A and B for qualifying Saturday (11 a.m. ET, FS1).
Each driver will post a single, timed qualifying lap. The fastest five drivers in each of the two groups will advance to the second round, where the remaining 10 drivers will fight for the Busch Light Pole Award.
HISTORY NEAR THE ARCHES
– Race promoter Chris Pook purchased Gateway International Raceway in 1995, a facility that consisted of a 1/8-mile drag strip, a quarter-mile track and a 2.6-mile road course.
– Pook, who previously promoted the Formula 1 and CART races of the Long Beach Grand Prix, immediately demolished the existing tracks and began construction of a new oval, infield road course and NHRA-sanctioned drag strip.
– The track’s first major event was a CART race on May 24, 1997, which was won by Paul Tracy.
– NASCAR’s first foray at the facility was an Xfinity Series race on July 26, 1997, won by Elliott Sadler. The series competed at Gateway through 2010.
– Dover Motorsports, Inc. purchased the track from Pook in 1998.
– The Camping World Truck Series made its first visit to Gateway on Sept. 19, 1998, which was won by Rick Carelli. Carelli currently spots for Erik Jones and the No. 43 Petty GMS Motorsports team.
– In 2010, Dover Motorsports, Inc. announced Gateway would officially close. In 2011, Curtis Francois, a retired race-car driver and real-estate developer, announced the purchase and re-opening of the 160-acre facility for the 2012 season. The track was renamed Gateway Motorsports Park.
– NASCAR and the facility announced the Truck Series’ return to Gateway for 2014, the first NASCAR-sanctioned race at the track since 2010.
– Gateway increased to more than 200 acres and is the largest outdoor entertainment facility in the region, encompassing a quarter-mile NHRA-sanctioned drag strip, 1.25 mile NASCAR oval track, 1.6-mile road course, a newly built world-class karting facility, improved grandstands and a recently completed fan pavilion.
– The oval was repaved in 2017 after the Truck Series race.
– In early 2019, Gateway Motorsports Park and World Wide Technology, a market-leading technology solution provider, formed a long-term naming rights commitment, renaming the motorsports facility World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway.
– Nine of the 36 drivers entered in Sunday’s race have won an Xfinity or Truck race at Gateway.
Source: Racing Insights
Although Cup cars have never competed at WWT Raceway, teams will have experience with this weekend’s tire package.
Goodyear will provide teams with the same left- and right-side tires used at both Phoenix Raceway in March and Richmond Raceway in April.
“Having a 50-minute practice and three sets of tires on a known tire set-up will be a big advantage for Cup teams at Gateway this week,” said Greg Stucker, Goodyear‘s director of racing. “This being an inaugural event, NASCAR gives the teams this time to hone in on their car’s set-up, and that will give teams enough time to get ready for the race. They already have a good idea of what these tires will do, having run this set-up at Phoenix and Richmond, so teams will unload closer to what they will settle on and get up to speed much quicker.”
GATEWAY STORY LINES
– Denny Hamlin scored his second win of the year last weekend in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Hamlin’s only other top-10 finish this year is a fourth-place result earned at Kansas Speedway, one points race before his Charlotte triumph.
– The last driver to have multiple wins with only three top-10s through 14 races in a season was Derrike Cope in 1990.
– Hamlin’s victory was also his 48th career win, tying him with Herb Thomas for 16th on the all-time wins list and moving him one win shy of Tony Stewart’s career win total (49).
– Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has finished inside the top 10 in each of his last four races, a career-long streak and the first time JTG Daugherty Racing has accomplished that feat.
– Christopher Bell has also scored four straight top 10s, tying his career-best streak.
– Hendrick Motorsports has led 99,902.9 miles in the Cup Series and is 98 miles short of crossing 100,000 miles. Hendrick will break that barrier if the team’s four drivers combine to lead 79 laps Sunday at Gateway.
– Kyle Larson is on a 12-race winless streak, his longest since joining Hendrick Motorsports in 2021.
– The pass for the win came in the final 10 laps in 11 of the 14 races in 2022.
– Martin Truex Jr. is making his 600th start this weekend. Only Richard Petty won in his 600th Cup start (Richmond in February 1973).
Source: Racing Insights
NEW TRACK, SAME FAVORITES
No matter where the Cup Series ventures, expect Kyle Larson to be at the head of the field.
The odds agree Larson is one to watch entering the weekend, with BetMGM listing Larson as the 15-2 favorite and JGR teammates Busch and Denny Hamlin right behind at 8-1. Larson has no prior experience at Gateway, but Busch does, winning an Xfinity Series race at the 1.25-mile oval in 2009.
Martin Truex Jr. is listed at 9-1 odds alongside Ross Chastain and William Byron. Truex won an Xfinity race at Gateway in 2004.
Looking for a long shot? Consider Bubba Wallace at 80-1 odds. Wallace won the Truck Series’ return to Gateway in 2014 during a four-win campaign, and his No. 23 Toyota has looked considerably quicker in recent races at Kansas and Charlotte.
RELATED: DraftKings betting odds for Gateway
Want to manage a team and race your way to the top of the leaderboards? Check out NASCAR Fantasy Live, which is open now. The free-to-play game lets you choose your drivers each week and show off your crew-chief instincts by garaging a driver by the end of Stage 3, and there is a $25,000 prize for the winner.
The 2022 Fantasy Live points leaders are Chase Elliott (483), Kyle Busch (445) and Ross Chastain (444).
ALSO ON NASCAR.COM
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