This weekend will mark the Cup Series’ first ever trip to World Wide Technology Raceway, a 1.25-mile asymmetrical oval located in Madison, Illinois, just outside of St. Louis. Although new to the Cup schedule, WWTR has hosted 21 Camping World Truck Series races since 1998 and was part of the Xfinity Series schedule from 1997-2010. Household names who’ve been to Victory Lane here in NASCAR’s lower divisions include Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski. So what can drivers expect when the green flag waves on Sunday afternoon at the track commonly known as “Gateway”?
“It’s been a long time since I’ve been there, but I’ve been watching the truck races there, and it seems like a track where you’ve got turns 1 and 2 that are high-banked, really sharp,” Joey Logano said. “If they’re shifting in a truck, they’re definitely going to be shifting in a Cup car now with the five speeds, and then you’ve got the sweeping, long (turns) 3 and 4 — flat, but I think you’ve got some tire wear there. You’ve got an older surface. You’ve got some bumps. You’ve got some character in it, so I think it’s gonna be a great race.”
Cup Series veteran Kurt Busch agrees. “Anytime it's an inaugural event, a new market, you feel that energy around the race,” the 2004 Cup Series champion said. “Last year with Road America, it was off the charts. Nashville was off the charts. You have that feel this year going into this race. It'll bring me back to when I raced there in the trucks. I was there in the year 2000 running trucks and shifting down the back straightaway at Gateway, so I'm looking forward to it. It's a big Phoenix, and it's not quite Darlington, so it has its own character already before we get there.”