This week’s lead story in the NASCAR world is the series’ most popular driver and 2020 champion Chase Elliott being suspended for this race after intentionally wrecking Denny Hamlin following contact between their cars. Corey Lajoie will move over to Hendrick Motorsports for one race to fill in for Elliott. Truck Series regular Carson Hocevar will start his first career Cup Series in Lajoie’s #7 Spire Motorsports Car.
Back to last week’s Coke 600, it was a wet weekend in Charlotte. After both the Xfinity and Cup Series races were rained out, Sunday gave us 900 miles of great racing between the two series. Ryan Blaney snapped his 59-race winless streak to give Roger Penske the sweep of the Indianapolis 500 and Coke 600.
This week it’s on to World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, Illinois, just east of St Louis, Missouri. This will only be the second year of Cup Series stars taking to this track, so there isn’t a ton of track history to go on. The track is a 1.25-Mile Oval.
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.
Enjoy Illinois 300 at World Wide Technology Raceway Best Bets
Bubba Wallace over Chase Briscoe (-110 Superbook Sportsbook)
Talk about drivers going in two different directions. This is a very interesting matchup. It’s been a tough season for Briscoe outside of the short tracks on the schedule. A fourth-place finish in the All-Star race, fifth at Martinsville and Bristol Dirt, and seventh at Phoenix are the highlights, all on short tracks.
On bigger tracks, not including superspeedway, it’s been a tough time for this #14 car, which at times hasn’t looked much faster than the Live Fast #78. However, 17th at Darlington has been Bricoe’s best finish on an intermediate style of race track. Briscoe also finished 24th here last season, even after starting on the pole.
For Wallace, it’s been a steady upward trend—four straight top-five finishes, including the All-Star Race. Wallace and the 23XI Racing team have shown speed week in and week out. Wallace has only finished outside of the top 12 in the last eight races one time. That 28th-place finish was at Talladega, where Wallace was in contention for the win late before a wreck.
While World Wide Technology Raceway isn’t as big as other 1.5-Mile tracks, and there’s been some improvement in the Ford camp lately, that doesn’t seem to include Briscoe, and barring a wreck, I wouldn’t expect Briscoe to be anywhere near Wallace at the end of this one.
UPDATE: After I had already written this bet up. On Wednesday afternoon Briscoe was fined 120 driver and owner points, a six-race crew chief suspension, and fined $250,000 for using a counterfeit part. The team says they will not appeal so Briscoe will be without his crew chief this week. To add to my argument, they needed to cheat to beat BJ McLeod by three spots every week. Give me Bubba all day.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr Over Erik Jones (-135 Caesars Sportsbook)
I love the head-to-head options we have this week. Erik Jones finished seventh in this race last season, and my guess is that’s the only reason he’s in this matchup. You have to go back to Las Vegas on March 3rd to find the last time Jones beat Stenhouse in a head-to-head in a true points-paying oval race (non-Superspeedway or road course). Last week at Charlotte Legacy Motor Club could not get out of their own way, with all three cars having major issues during the race.
For Stenhouse, who opened the season with the biggest win of his career at the Daytona 500, the team has continued to make big strides since then. Seventh last week in the Coke 600, finishes of 13th at Darlington, 12th at Kansas, and 13th at Dover have shown consistent speed for this JTG Daugherty Racing team in 2023. Again, barring any wrecks or mechanical failures, this 47-car should stay well ahead of the 43 this week.
Chris Buescher Over Aric Almirola (-120 Caesars Sportsbook)
If you’ve heard me talk about anything on the NASCAR GAMBLING PODCAST this year, it’s the lack of speed for Stewart-Haas Racing outside of Kevin Harvick. That goes for Chase Briscoe a few bets ago and still rings true for Aric Almirola here. 25th last week in the Coke 600, failing to make the All-Star Race, 21st at Darlington, 24th at Dover, all leaving his 13th place Kansas finish look like a great day.
For Chris Buescher, it’s been a season of continuing to build. That Roush Fenway Keselowski stable looks faster and better each week. Buescher has finished inside of the top 18 in the last seven points-paying races and has beaten Almirola in five of the last seven, six of eight if you count the All-Star Race.
William Byron to Win (+700 MGM Sportsbook)
I’m not sure any driver has been as on fire as William Byron nor as consistent on a week-to-week basis. Byron is the only driver in the field with three points race wins to his name in 2023. William has four straight points race finishes inside the top four, including a win at Darlington. In that four-race span, Byron has had that #24 car out front for over 300 laps led. So give me Byron and his big hat to find their way to victory lane for a fourth time this season.
Bubba Wallace to Win (+4000 Superbook Sportsbook)
If Byron’s big hat gets in his way, maybe it’s Bubba’s day to return to victory lane. I’ve already made the argument for the speed and great finishes Bubba has had lately, and getting a driver this good in this good of a car at 40/1 is an absolute steal.
Enjoy Illinois 300 DraftKings DFS Drivers to Watch
Martin Truex Jr $10,300
All the drivers at the top of the board deserve to be looked at this week for sure. Byron at $11,000, I’m big on based on his recent run and the fact I’ve picked him to win. However, another driver I want to highlight is Martin Truex Jr. Things have been looking up for Truex this season after a disappointing 2022 campaign.
Over the last four points-paying races, Truex hasn’t scored less than 45.5 DraftKings points. He’s registered fast laps in every race this season except for Phoenix and has led laps in four of the last five races, including a 145 laps led performance at Darlington a few weeks ago.
Alex Bowman $8,600
Bowman returned last week from his injury and performed very well, especially for it being a 600-mile race for his first event back. Bowman is a driver who will consistently give you solid points week in and week out. Last week he racked up 51.4 points at Charlotte.
The Bristol Dirt Race, where Bowman scored just 1.0 points, was his worst showing of the season. Besides that, his lowest total in 11 races this season has been 35.1 points. Nevertheless, Bowman provides a very solid floor and a high upside each week.