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June 2, 2024

Racing Insights: Martin Truex Jr. drops to third in updated projection


The Cup Series heads to World Wide Technology Raceway on Sunday for the Enjoy Illinois 300 (3:30 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN Radio, Sirius XM NASCAR Radio), and a winless past champion might crack Victory Lane for the first time this year.

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The big change is that it’s a different past champion who is favored to win Sunday’s race after Saturday’s practice and qualifying sessions. Instead of Martin Truex Jr., who was the top pick originally, now it’s Ryan Blaney because Team Penske started the weekend strong in terms of practice times and qualifying positioning.

Blaney qualified third but also led the field in 15-lap averages during practice. That in part has helped him catch the eye of the Racing Insights’ predictors. After Blaney comes Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin and Truex in the updated projections. Hendrick Motorsports’ Kyle Larson and William Byron round out the projected top five.

Team Penske’s Joey Logano is sixth, with Christopher Bell, Chase Elliott, Tyler Reddick and Kyle Busch completing the projected top 10.

With the first half of the season over and eight winners in the books, will anyone else emerge as a title contender? Sunday’s race appears to be wide open for a new winner to add his name to the ledger.

OTHER DRIVERS TO WATCH

KYLE BUSCH: Busch finished in the top two in both races at Gateway, and last year’s win is his most recent victory. It will be interesting to see how Busch runs this weekend and if he can match the pace he showed last year.

JOEY LOGANO: Logano has two top-five finishes in the two Cup races at Gateway and is another Gateway winner in need of a change in luck. His last top-10 finish was at Martinsville, and he’s currently outside of the playoff picture — but he’s also Joey Logano and is always a threat to win.

ALEX BOWMAN: Bowman continues to put together a stellar season. While he has yet to step into the winner’s circle this year, his four top fives and nine top 10s are some of his best career numbers through 14 races. Plus, he’s riding a five-race streak of finishing in the top 10.

ROSS CHASTAIN: Chastain’s eighth-place finish in Charlotte was his first top-10 finish since COTA. He could build some momentum this weekend at Gateway with another strong run. He finished eighth there in the inaugural Cup race and won a Truck race there.

CARSON HOCEVAR: More of an under-the-radar pick here, Hocevar made his Cup Series debut in this race a year ago, driving the No. 7 Chevrolet and was on pace for a decent finish until a brake failure took him out while running 16th. He had good runs in the Truck Series and could find some luck at Gateway for win No. 1 of his career.

RACING INSIGHTS’ PROJECTIONS FOR THE ENJOY ILLINOIS 300

Racing Insights’ advanced statistical formula includes current track, current track type, recent performance, team data and pit-crew data to arrive at a projected winner and full race results.

FinishCar NumberDriver
112Ryan Blaney
211Denny Hamlin
319Martin Truex Jr.
45Kyle Larson
524William Byron
622Joey Logano
720Christopher Bell
89Chase Elliott
945Tyler Reddick
108Kyle Busch
111Ross Chastain
126Brad Keselowski
1354Ty Gibbs
1448Alex Bowman
1523Bubba Wallace
1617Chris Buescher
1734Michael McDowell
182Austin Cindric
1914Chase Briscoe
2099Daniel Suárez
2143Erik Jones
224Josh Berry
2341Ryan Preece
2477Carson Hocevar
2510Noah Gragson
263Austin Dillon
2751Justin Haley
287Corey LaJoie
2938Todd Gilliland
3047Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
3121Harrison Burton
3271Zane Smith
3342John H. Nemechek
3431Daniel Hemric
3516Derek Kraus
3615Cody Ware

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