Drivers to watch in NASCAR Cup Series race at Gateway

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NASCAR’s premier series goes to Worldwide Technology Raceway at Gateway for the first time this weekend.

Although Cup teams have never competed on the flat, 1.25-mile oval, there are some drivers to keep an eye on Sunday (3:30 p.m. ET, FS1).

FRONT RUNNERS

Kyle Busch

  • Points position: 3rd

  • Last three races: 33rd Darlington; 3rd — Kansas; 2nd — Charlotte

  • Past at Gateway: Won Xfinity race in 2009

Busch is on a bit of a hot streak, notching three podium finishes in his last five races to climb to No. 1 in the NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings. The two-time Cup champion has experience at Gateway, claiming an Xfinity Series win in 2009. In three Xfinity starts, Busch never finished worse than eighth there.

The No. 18 team has momentum on its side. Despite an early spin while battling at the head of the pack, Busch scored a runner-up finish Sunday at Charlotte for his second straight finish inside the top three. With 60 career Cup wins, Busch seems like a safe bet at nearly any track on the circuit.

Ross Chastain

  • Points position: 2nd

  • Last three races: 30th Darlington; 7th — Kansas; 15th — Charlotte

  • Past at Gateway: Won Truck race in 2019

Chastain has remained fast at seemingly every track on the Cup schedule this season. Heading to a facility where he’s already won bodes well for Chastain, who has already won twice this season at Circuit of the Americas and Talladega.

Chastain wheeled a Niece Motorsports truck to victory at Gateway in 2019 during a three-win season. He has also laps led in each of his last five Cup starts, including a race-high 153 circuits in last weekend’s Coca-Cola 600.

Christopher Bell

  • Points position: 9th

  • Last three races: 6th Darlington; 5th — Kansas; 5th — Charlotte

  • Past at Gateway: Won Truck race in 2016

Bell is stringing together an impressive stretch of good finishes, taking the checkered flag sixth or better in each of the last four races. The No. 20 team has had speed much of the season but execution lagged. That’s changed. His eight top-10 finishes is tied for fourth this season with reigning Cup champion Kyle Larson and Ross Chastain.

 

QUESTIONS TO ANSWER

Tyler Reddick

  • Points position: 12th

  • Last three races: 2nd Darlington; 30th — Kansas; 6th — Charlotte

  • Past at Gateway: Had one top-10 finish in three Xfinity starts.

Reddick has led laps in each of the last three Cup races. Even so, he’s had a roller-coaster run lately. In his last six races, the Richard Childress Racing driver has three top-10 finishes and three finishes of 30th or worse. Reddick enters this weekend’s race holding what would be the final playoff spot. He has an eight-point lead on Aric Almirola and a 22-point lead on teammate Austin Dillon.

Joey Logano

  • Points position: 6th

  • Last three races: WON — Darlington; 17th — Kansas; 20th — Charlotte

  • Past at Gateway: Finished second in 2008 Xfinity race

Logano has fared well in inaugural events on ovals. He won the Clash at the Coliseum exhibition race in February. He also won the inaugural Bristol Dirt race last season. He could use some momentum. His Darlington win is his only top-15 finish in the last five races.

William Byron

  • Points position: 7th

  • Last three races: 13th — Darlington; 16th — Kansas; 32nd — Charlotte

  • Past at Gateway: Finished 17th in lone Truck start in 2016.

Byron is one of three drivers with a series-high two wins this season, but has struggled lately. He has failed to finish better than 13th in the six points races since his last win, which came at Martinsville. Byron has failed to score points in five of the last nine stages.

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Drivers to watch in NASCAR Cup Series race at Gateway originally appeared on NBCSports.com