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NASCAR survivor pool: NASCAR.com's 36 for 36 picks for Gateway

NASCAR.com’s 36 for 36 continues at World Wide Technology Raceway.

With 36 races and 36 full-time Charter cars, our players select one car per race, but there’s a simple twist: Once they’ve made the pick, they can’t choose that car again for the rest of the 36-race season. Yes, that means every car will be selected exactly once … a survivor pool, by another name. 

Follow along weekly as our panel of pickers — Dustin Albino from Jayski, along with Steve Luvender and Cameron Richardson from NASCAR.com — embarks on a season-long journey to think like strategists and prove their picking prowess. 

We’ll also feature a fourth “community” 36 for 36 pick each week, as decided by fan vote on the r/NASCAR subreddit. Can the collective vote topple our trio of full-timers?

Current Standings:

  1. Steve Luvender: 350 

  2. Dustin Albino: -17

  3. r/NASCAR Community: -33

  4. Cameron Richardson: -67

Race 15 of 36: Gateway

Last week’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte wasn’t kind to our pickers. Austin Dillon netted just 10 points for Cameron Richardson, while Dustin Albino didn’t fare much better from Chris Buescher’s 23rd-place finish. The r/NASCAR community pick of the No. 5 car didn’t quite pan out as intended, with Justin Allgaier picking up 24 points after his 13th-place finish substituting for Kyle Larson. And, with a 12th-place finish by Martin Truex Jr., Steve Luvender had the best day with 31 points — a far cry from race winner Christopher Bell’s 67-point race. 

The Cup Series now heads to the Midwest for a 300-miler at World Wide Technology Raceway, and our picking panel has a clear favorite.

Jayski’s Dustin Albino: No. 8, Kyle Busch

A general 36 for 36 graphic.
A general 36 for 36 graphic.

Dustin’s pick last week: No. 17, Chris Buescher (14 points)

Total season points: 333 (second place)

Dustin: Welp, I chose the wrong RFK Racing driver at Charlotte, and it has put me in a bit of a hole going to Gateway. But I think Busch can help dig me out. The two-time Cup champion has led the most laps in both races at Gateway and has an average finish of 1.5. In his first attempt with Richard Childress Racing last year, he cruised to victory by leading nearly half the race. It’s been a trying season for the No. 8 team, but he has more laps than most around the 1.25-mile, egg-shaped track. Busch will get back on track this weekend.

NASCAR.com’s Steve Luvender: No. 51, Justin Haley

A general 36 for 36 graphic.
A general 36 for 36 graphic.

Steve’s pick last week: No. 19, Martin Truex Jr. (31 points)

Total season points: 350 (first place)

Steve: I’m putting my points lead at risk this weekend with a long-shot pick. A few cars on my board have left me puzzled about when to pick them, and one of those is Haley — so why not now? With a 16.3 average finish in the last three races, it seems the No. 51 team is finding its stride, and Haley’s 15.0 average finish in two St. Louis Cup Series races isn’t too shabby. Not for nothing, Haley also won a Craftsman Truck Series race at the track in 2018. I don’t expect a huge haul of points, but a top-20 finish isn’t unreasonable at all.

NASCAR.com’s Cameron Richardson: No. 8, Kyle Busch

A general 36 for 36 graphic.
A general 36 for 36 graphic.

Cameron’s pick last week: No. 3, Austin Dillon (10 points)

Total season points: 283 (fourth place)

Cameron: A no-brainer for me here. With consecutive weeks of low point totals, I’m going with the defending winner at WWT Raceway. The site of Busch’s last Cup win, this Sunday is as close to a must-win for the No. 8 team as can be. Busch has finished second and first in the two Cup races at the Illinois track and has led a whopping 38.3% of the 488 laps completed. There are still plenty of races for both Busch and myself to right the ship, but this weekend will be pivotal in determining the direction of our respective campaigns.

r/NASCAR Community: No. 8, Kyle Busch



A general 36 for 36 graphic.
A general 36 for 36 graphic.

r/NASCAR’s pick last week: No. 5, Justin Allgaier (24 points)

Total season points: 317 (third place)

Kyle Busch is a popular pick this week! The NASCAR subreddit selected Rowdy in this week’s voting thread.

What Redditors had to say in favor of the No. 8: 

u/Extreme-Bite-9123: “This is probably Kyle’s best track. If he can bring a fast race car, then this is his last real chance to win a race. He’s probably best here of anyone in the cup series, either him or Logano, and Logano has like 5 races we can use him for still” 

u/LeapsFrog: “I am going to recommend Kyle Busch. He won this race last year and got 2nd in 2022. He did do well in Dover so he shouldn’t have problems at this track. Would be satisfied with either Busch or Logano this week.”

u/FridgusDomin8or: “Busch has an average finish of 1.5 in these cars at gateway. You aren’t gonna find a better place to use him this year.” 

u/FeelingCheesecake522: “Statistically feel that this is our best shot with Kyle Busch. Second in 2022, and a win last season for RCR. Kyle and Randall should have a strong baseline set up from last year that should at least be in the ballpark of top 10 speed.” 

Check back next week to see how our pickers fared as the season-long 36 for 36 journey continues.

And, if you’ve got a competitive itch beyond meticulously managing your Fantasy Live lineup each week, feel free to save or print your own 36 for 36 sheet and see if you can beat our pickers and the Reddit community!