2022 Enjoy Illinois 300 at Gateway NASCAR Predictions and Pick

| June 2, 2022 4:09 pm PDT

The 2022 Coca-Cola 600 was about as wild as they come. It was an action-packed race, with many comers and goers. A late caution put Denny Hamlin in front as he scored his second victory of the season.

This week, the Cup Series will make its inaugural trip to Gateway. Most drivers have raced at Gateway in the Xfinity and Truck Series, but a few top contenders will make their first start at the 1.25-mile oval.

Check out my favorite betting picks for the 2022 Enjoy Illinois 300.

Ross Chastain (+850)

It was hard to pinpoint a dominant driver in the Coca-Cola 600, but Ross Chastain led a race-high 153 laps. He lost the lead with 46 laps remaining, but a late caution gave him another chance. Unfortunately, a crash led to a 15th-place finish.

Because the Cup Series hasn’t raced at Gateway, we have to use comparable tracks. Phoenix and Richmond are the short flat tracks the Cup Series has competed at in 2022. NASCAR will use the same tire compound from each race at Gateway.

Check out the finishes for Chastain in each race.

  • Phoenix: 2nd
  • Richmond: 19th

Those results would lead you to think Chastain had a better performance at Phoenix. Honestly, you could argue he had a better car at Richmond. He finished third in both stages, but an issue led to a poor finish.

In 2019, Chastain won at Gateway in the Truck Series. He is the only driver in the Cup Series field to win at Gateway in the last five years. His familiarity with the track will come in handy on Sunday.

Chastain continues to compete for wins every week. We shouldn’t expect anything less at Gateway.

Chase Elliott (+1000)

Chase Elliott’s consistency is why he has been the points leader for nearly the entire season. However, Elliott’s team has hit a rough patch. They had two straight finishes outside the top 25 after crashing while running top 10.

Elliott may have had the car to beat at Charlotte, but he hit the wall while leading. Elliott is one of 12 drivers that has never competed at Gateway. However, we’ve seen him in contention on the short flat tracks.

He failed to finish top 10 at Phoenix or Richmond, but his performance throughout the race shows he was a top contender.

  Phoenix Richmond
Stage 1 Finish 3rd 6th
Stage 2 Finish 2nd 6th
Total Speed 1st 5th

Elliott led 50 laps at Phoenix, but a late spin led to an 11th-place finish. He was a top-five contender at Richmond, but his car fell off in the final stage. Richmond has never been a great track for Elliott, but Phoenix is one of his best.

You can also use Martinsville as a comparison for Gateway. Elliott led 185 laps at Martinsville in April. It wouldn’t surprise me if his first NASCAR start at Gateway ended in victory lane.

Christopher Bell (+1400)

The May update for the 2022 Cup Series Championship had Christopher Bell as a sleeper. Bell was coming off his fourth top 10 finish in six races. We’ve had three points races since that update. Bell has finished sixth, fifth, and fifth.

It’s only a matter of time before Bell scores his first victory of 2022. Like Ross Chastain, he has a win at Gateway in the Truck Series. The short flat tracks have been Bell’s strength in his Cup Series career.

He finished sixth in Stage 1 at Phoenix, but a midrace spin relegated him to a 26th-place finish. Check out his numbers in the Spring race at Richmond.

  • Stage 1 Finish: 7th
  • Stage 2 Finish: 2nd
  • Race Finish: 6th
  • Laps Led: 60 of 400

Richmond wound up being a strategy race. Without that, there’s a good chance Bell contends for the win.

I’ve been hesitant to include New Hampshire in my comparisons because the Cup Series hasn’t raced there with the Next-Gen car. For what it’s worth, Bell finished second in last year’s race.

Bell shouldn’t have an issue extending his top 10 streak, but he has higher aspirations for Gateway.

Kevin Harvick (+2200)

Last season, Kevin Harvick was a disappointment because he didn’t win a race. Many drivers would’ve been happy with a fifth-place finish in the standings. As we head into June, Harvick continues to exhibit consistency.

A third-place finish at Charlotte gave him his fourth top 10 finish in the last five races. Harvick isn’t making many waves, but he puts himself in position for a good finish. The top NASCAR betting sites are undervaluing him for Gateway.

We’ve been talking about Phoenix and Richmond. Well, check out Harvick 2022 numbers at each track.

  Phoenix Richmond
Starting Position 16th 7th
Race Finish 6th 2nd
Total Speed 4th 1st

The total speed rating shows that Harvick has been the best overall driver at Phoenix and Richmond. Harvick’s finishes of sixth or better back up that claim.

Everyone knows he has the consistency to compete for a top-five finish, but when will Harvick return to victory lane? He does have three Gateway wins, but none since 2010.

Harvick might not be a top contender, but his value is too good to pass up. I believe we’ll see him in victory lane before the end of the 2022 season.

2022 Enjoy Illinois 300 Race Props

Last week, Christopher Bell missed the pole by 0.04 seconds, and Chase Elliott crashed while leading. Thankfully, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. earned a top 10 finish at (+175).

Check out my favorite race props for Gateway.

Denny Hamlin to Finish Ahead of Kyle Larson (-115)

Last season, the championship battle was between Kyle Larson and Denny Hamlin. Larson was dominant with 10 wins, but Hamlin’s consistency kept him in the battle. We haven’t seen either driver perform to expectations.

Both drivers are improving, but Hamlin has the edge on short flat tracks. Neither driver had much speed at Phoenix, but Hamlin had the advantage after Larson had an engine issue.

Check out their finishes at Richmond.

  • Denny Hamlin: 1st
  • Kyle Larson: 5th

Neither driver had a great car, but they made their way to the front in the final stage. Hamlin’s pit strategy earned him his first victory of the season.

Larson has never raced at Gateway in his NASCAR career. I doubt that’ll make a significant difference, but flat tracks aren’t his strength. Hamlin shouldn’t have an issue finishing ahead of him as he competes for the win.

Chase Briscoe to Finish Top 10 (+110)

Chase Briscoe entered the Coca-Cola 600 with five straight finishes of 12th or worse. However, he was a top contender all night and had the fastest car in the final 50 laps.

Briscoe tried to pass Kyle Larson but spun while running second. He recovered to score his third top-five finish of the season. Briscoe had a solid 11th-place finish at Richmond, but this prop is about his Phoenix performance.

  • Stage 1 Finish: 2nd
  • Stage 2 Finish: 8th
  • Race Finish: 1st
  • Laps Led: 101 of 312

Briscoe battled Ross Chastain and Tyler Reddick on a pair of late-race restarts. He held them off to score his first career Cup Series victory. After his Charlotte performance, it wouldn’t surprise me if he contended for another win.

I’m all for value on Briscoe scoring a top 10 finish. Including Martinsville, he hasn’t finished worse than 11th on a short flat track in 2022.

Ryan Blaney Top Ford Driver (+200)

It wasn’t long ago that Ryan Blaney was battling Chase Elliott for the points lead. Blaney has dropped to fourth after five straight finishes outside the top 10. He finished seventh in his lone Gateway start in 2014.

Blaney is looking for his first points victory of 2022. Phoenix and Richmond represented his best opportunities.

  Phoenix Richmond
Finishing Position 4th 7th
Laps Led 143 128

Phoenix has always been one of Blaney’s better tracks. He has four top-five finishes in his last seven starts at the track. This was the first time we saw him in contention at Richmond.

Blaney, Joey Logano, Chase Briscoe, and Kevin Harvick should be the top Ford drivers at Gateway. Logano finished second at Martinsville, but he lacked speed at Phoenix and Richmond.

Briscoe and Harvick should be competitive, but Blaney has the upper hand.

Who Will Win the 2022 Enjoy Illinois 300?

My Pick: Chase Elliott (+1000)Bet on NASCAR at Bovada

It’ll be interesting to see how bettors view Chase Elliott at Gateway. This will be his first start at the track, but his speed on short flat tracks gives him the upper hand.

Elliott has back-to-back rough finishes, but he was running well inside the top 10 when an incident ruined his day. Without those problems, he probably finishes top-five in both races. I love the value for Elliott at Gateway.

Fans can tune into the inaugural Cup Series race at Gateway on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET on FS1. Feel free to read my betting picks for Xfinity and Truck Series racing this weekend.

Nicholas Sterling
Nicholas Sterling

Nicholas has been a Sports Writer with GamblingSites.com since May 2021. He has a rich sports background, writing about NASCAR, NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, Golf, etc. Nick is always ready for a new challenge.

He enjoys rooting on D.C. sports teams, including the Commanders, Wizards, and Capitals.

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