By Sean Montgomery
5 Minute Read
Everything you need to know for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race in Illinois, the 15th points-paying race of the 2023 Cup Series campaign.
📍 Location: Madison, Illinois
📐 Track length: 1.25 miles
🎟️ Buy tickets: Find weekend passes, seats for the race
💰 Cup Series race purse: $7,425,976
📏 Race distance: 300 miles | 240 laps
🔢 Stages: 45 | 140 | 240
🚪 Entry list: Cup Series drivers entered
📋 Starting lineup: Kyle Busch lands P1 for Sunday
🚗 Pit stall assignments: Where drivers will pit
🏆 Most recent winner: Joey Logano
Key things to watch 🔑
Big story line
Round 2 in St. Louis. Last season’s race was the debut for the Cup Series at the 1.25-mile facility – yet another debut race won by Joey Logano. But there were a number of comers-and-goers throughout the race and plenty of on-track run-ins between top contenders. How much of last year’s technical notebook will carry over to Sunday’s race? Will we see another first-time winner this week? Ryan Blaney’s win in Charlotte brought the season total to 10 different winners, meaning there are only six points positions up for grabs if you’re trying to make the NASCAR Playoffs. Entering the summer stretch with only 12 races until the playoffs begin, tension and tempers are heating up.
History tells us…
Ryan Blaney is on Kevin Harvick’s career trajectory. Blaney’s drought-ending win on Monday in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway sparked comparisons to the legendary wheelman’s illustrious career. Through their first 284 Cup Series starts, they have shocking similarities in wins, top-five finishes, average points finish and a handful of other important categories. A big test for Blaney will be if he can keep up his newfound momentum, now only trailing Ross Chastain by one point in the regular-season standings. After finishing fourth in the inaugural race at World Wide Technology Raceway last year, another strong finish could certainly throw his hat in with the top title contenders.
🔍 FULL ANALYSIS: See how Blaney, Harvick stack up through 284 races
He may not be the betting favorite to win, but watch out for…
Corey LaJoie. Bettors have clearly respected his shift to the No. 9 Chevrolet this weekend, resulting in 35-1 opening odds for the Spire Motorsports regular. He presents an interesting opportunity to find some value without taking an enormous risk and is still a few tiers below this week’s betting favorites. LaJoie is already having the best statistical season of his career, with an average finish of six positions better than any other year – and he’s already run more laps inside the top 15 than all of the 2022 season. Don’t be surprised to see him making some noise throughout the weekend in a very different role. LaJoie qualified in 30th, so he will have a lot of work to do, but it’s a long afternoon in Illinois. | LaJoie on what Rick Hendrick said to him
Following the trend of his success in last year’s race, Kyle Busch put on a show in qualifying, landing his first Busch Light Pole Award since 2019 – yes, you read that correctly. Busch posted a 137.187 mph lap time in the final round, sneaking past Ryan Blaney, who starts alongside the Richard Childress Racing driver. In practice, Joey Logano had the hot hand and topped the charts over the pair of Hendrick Motorsports teammates in Kyle Larson and William Byron. | Read full practice and qualifying recap
NASCAR.com’s Kim Coon dives into the history of on-track run-ins between Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin.
Our biggest pieces of the week — get covered for race day from all angles.
– Paint Scheme Preview: Sparkling schemes for St. Louis | Pick a favorite
– Power Rankings: William Byron back on top after elite May | Latest driver rankings
– Fantasy Fastlane: Blaney, Busch lead charge into St. Louis | Top plays, Fantasy Live advice
– Betting odds: Favorites, long shots to win on Sunday | Top bets, underdog picks
– Stacking Pennies: Corey LaJoie reacts to driving the No. 9, Jessica Hook joins | Listen to the podcast
💎 NASCAR 75: Learn more about the history of the sport, from pioneers to current stars | Visit NASCAR 75 hub
Key stories and breaking news from the week leading up to the race.
– L3 penalty: Issued to No. 14 SHR team for counterfeit part | Read more | Sawyer explains
– Suspension: Chase Elliott sidelined for one race after Charlotte | Read more | Sawyer explains
– Corey LaJoie: Filling in the No. 9 this weekend in St. Louis | Read more
– Garage 56: Timeline and coverage of Le Mans project | Read more | New photos
– Jimmie Johnson: Soaking in Le Mans, new opportunity | Read more
– Pit road stats: William Byron’s crew shines at Charlotte | Read more
– ‘Beyond the Wheel’: Short series airing on FS1 this week | Watch trailer
– Untold Stories: Diving into the life of one-of-a-kind David Pearson | Watch video
– NDIP: NASCAR Diversity Internship Program announces 2023 class | Read more
Think you know NASCAR? Put your mettle to the test with gaming, fantasy and Fan Rewards.
– Fantasy Live: Participate in interactive gameplay from week to week | Choose your lineup
– Fan Rewards: New in 2023, get rewarded for your participation | Learn more
– NASCAR BetCenter: Don’t miss your chance to make picks each week | Visit the BetCenter
– Going the distance: 2023 Cup Series championship odds | See them here
– The Action Network: Early betting favorites for Sunday’s race | Expert analysis
New to the Cup Series schedule in 2022, relive some of the best moments and see photos from last year’s race.
– Winner, winner: Logano claims historic first win at WWT Raceway | Full race recap
– Final laps: Logano vs. Kyle Busch in the exciting 2022 finish | Watch here
– At-track photos: See best scenes from last year’s event | Scroll through gallery
– Relive in GIFs: Recap the 2022 race with the best from St. Louis | Take a look
Five hard-hitting, race-relevant statistics, brought to you by the experts at Racing Insights.
– The driver who led the most laps won five times this season.
– A driver led 100 or more laps in nine races this season.
– The final green-flag stretch was seven laps or less in eight races this season.
– Three races this season were won with a last-lap pass.
– Nine races in 2023 had a green-flag stretch of 66 laps or longer.
🔮 Advance to Victory Lane: Racing Insights projects Sunday’s finishing order