Start your engines Illinois; NASCAR is coming.
The freshly-branded Enjoy Illinois 300 will be the marquee race at the World Wide Technology Raceway (WWTR) in Madison, IL, on June 6. The flag will drop at 2:30 p.m. The race will be broadcast on FS1.
It will be the first NASCAR Cup Series race at the track, which also hosts IndyCar and NHRA races. NASCAR wanted to stretch into new markets and shifted one of two races away from the Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania to make room for a stop at WWTR.
Chase Elliott leads the NASCAR Cup series standings with 368 points and seven top 10 finishes so far, followed by Ryan Blaney at 347 points along with four top five appearances. The Enjoy Illinois 300 is the 20th race on the NASCAR 2022 calendar. The defending series champion is Kyle Larson.
BetRivers Sportsbook has Larson as +450 to repeat as NASCAR Cup champion, followed by William Byron and Elliott each at +700.
Illinois sportsbooks traditionally have multiple ways to bet on a NASCAR race, including head-to-head performances (pick which of two drivers will finish first) and over/unders on the number of the winning car.
What’s in a name?
WWTR is over the Mississippi River just east of St. Louis but retains an Illinois identity. To cement that connection, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzer and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity announced the race would be branded “Enjoy Illinois 300.”
Pritzker said in a press release:
“The Enjoy Illinois 300 establishes Illinois’ own World Wide Technology Raceway as the country’s standout track for stock car, open-wheel, and drag racing alike. I promised to be our state’s best Chief Marketing Officer, and with the return of NASCAR to Illinois, visitors from around the nation have yet another reason to come explore all that Metro East has to offer. This is an incredible opportunity to showcase Illinois and we look forward to welcoming NASCAR fans to our great state.
The top 16 drivers in the NASCAR Cup Series advance to a playoff starting in September, where only their performances carry over. Those 16 are whittled down to 12 drivers, then eight. The season concludes with the NASCAR Championship race in Phoenix on Nov. 6.
Enjoying Illinois bottom line
A study performed by The Rawlings Sports Business Management showed that the event will have over a $60 million economic impact on the area with a crowd of over 83,000.
Curtis Francois, owner and CEO of WWTR, said:
“As we prepare to host the largest spectator event in the state, we are thrilled to partner with the Illinois Office of Tourism to deliver the best Illinois has to offer. We have worked in close collaboration with officials from the Metro East and St. Louis to create one of the nation’s premier destinations for the motorsports industry and its incredibly passionate fans, and I look forward to hosting them for this historic race weekend.”
For the uninitiated, NASCAR races are not just single-day events. Enjoy Illinois 300 weekend will start with a hauler parade through St. Louis over the river and to the track where the cars and drivers will begin final preparations.
NASCAR’s two smaller circuits will also race in Illinois that weekend. The World of Outlaws Late Model Series will run at Tri-City Speedway in Pontoon Beach on Friday, June 3 and the WWTR will host the Camping World Truck Series Toyota 200 on Saturday, June 4.
Karla Flannery, the deputy director of the Illinois Office of Tourism, said:
“The more than 250 annual events at WWTR have been a tremendous tourism driver for the state. As the only racetrack in the U.S. to host the elite series from each of the three major race sanctioning bodies – NASCAR, INDYCAR and NHRA – hundreds of thousands of visitors support this multipurpose venue each year. We are proud to support the continuing economic growth and development at WWTR as it evolves into a vibrant multi-faceted entertainment district.”
Upcoming NASCAR schedule
All races are on Sunday:
- May 1: DuraMAX Drydene 400 at Dover Motor Speedway (Del.)
- May 8: Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway (S.C.)
- May 15: AdventHealth 400 at Kansas Speedway (Kansas City)
- May 22: NASCAR All-Star Open at Texas Speedway (Fort Worth)
- May 29: Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway (Concord, N.C.)