The 2022 NASCAR Cup Series schedule is not yet available, but there is a scenario where the top drivers in stock car racing head to Illinois for a race. Per Adam Stern of the “Sports Business Journal,” the sanctioning body is exploring a race at World-Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway Motorsports Park, the site of the first Camping World Truck Series playoff race.
According to Stern’s report, NASCAR has held discussions in recent months to discuss sending the Cup Series to the track in Madison, Ill., which sits near the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. However, the current status of the discussions remains unclear with the release of the 2022 schedule looming.
Additionally, Stern reported that another track is the center of discussions. He noted that NASCAR has continued to explore the idea of holding a short track race inside of the Los Angeles Coliseum, the home of the USC Trojans. Jordan Bianchi of “The Athletic” reported in mid-June that the sanctioning body was actively exploring a race at the historic venue, and now Stern has confirmed that the stadium remains in play.
The World-Wide Technology Raceway Poses a Unique Challenge
With the Camping World Truck Series kicking off the playoffs on Friday, Aug. 20, FS1 headed to the track to provide coverage for the 160-lap race. Cup Series driver Kurt Busch joined in the broadcast to provide analysis, but he also noted what makes the track intriguing for drivers.
According to the 2004 Cup Series champion, WWTR is very similar to Phoenix Raceway, the home of the championship races. Though the straightaways are longer than the desert track. Busch also explained during the FS1 broadcast that the turns are flat and resemble those that make up the various road courses on the circuit.
Busch has personal experience at the track. He suited up for a race at WWTR on May 7, 2000, while driving for Roush Fenway Racing. He started 16th overall in the No. 99 Ford but finished 21st while Jack Sprague won for Hendrick Motorsports.
The Truck & Xfinity Series Have Raced at Gateway Several Times
While the Cup Series has never competed at the World-Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway Motorsports Park, the other two series have. The Xfinity Series drivers competed at the oval track a total of 15 times from 1997 until 2010.
Elliott Sadler won the first-ever Xfinity Series race at Gateway Motorsports Park, which took place on July 26, 1997. He only secured one victory at the track, but multiple other drivers reached Victory Lane at least two other times. For example, Dale Earnhardt Jr. won in 1998 and 1999 while Kevin Harvick went back-to-back in 2000 and 2001. Reed Sorenson took a Dodge stock car to Victory Lane in 2005 and 2007.
Carl Edwards, a 38-time winner in the Xfinity Series, holds the record for the most Xfinity Series wins at Gateway Motorsports Park. He locked up three victories during his career — 2006, 2008, and 2010. Though Brad Keselowski won the last Xfinity Series race at the track, which also took place in 2010.
The Truck Series, for comparison, began racing at the Gateway in 1998 and has continued to do so ever since. Several big names have locked up wins at the track, including defending Truck Series champion Sheldon Creed, Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick, 23XI Racing’s Bubba Wallace, and Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell.
If the talks proceed favorably, some of these drivers could return to Gateway Motorsports Park, albeit in more powerful stock cars. Wallace could drive the No. 23 Toyota Camry while facing off with Harvick in the No. 4 Ford Mustang.