NASCAR decision makes Gateway disaster inevitable

Gateway, NASCAR (Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images)
Gateway, NASCAR (Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images) /

With Chase Elliott suspended, NASCAR can expect terrible ratings for Sunday afternoon’s race at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway.

NASCAR made the decision to suspend Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott for one race after Elliott hooked the No. 11 Toyota of Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin in the right rear coming out of turn four in Monday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

While Elliott denied it, the move was viewed as an act of retaliation, so NASCAR issued him the same penalty they issued to 23XI Racing’s Bubba Wallace when he made a similar move on Hendrick Motorsports’ Kyle Larson at Las Vegas Motor Speedway last October.

The suspension, though widely believed to be completely justified, has set NASCAR up for a major disappointment in Sunday afternoon’s Enjoy Illinois 300 presented by TicketSmarter at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway.

A suspension of NASCAR’s five-time reigning Most Popular Driver will be felt in a big way when it comes to ratings.

Ratings dropped significantly when Elliott missed six races earlier this season with a fractured left tibia he suffered in a Colorado snowboarding crash, and they skyrocketed upon his return at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday, April 23.

Expect the same thing to happen this time around, with a contingent of the sport’s largest driver fanbase having already made clear that they will not be watching nor following this Sunday afternoon’s event.

In fact, expect the drop to be more significant this week, given the reason why Elliott is slated to miss this event. During his six-race absence earlier this year, some fans simply didn’t want to watch without him competing. This time around, there are several fans who want to make a statement with a boycott.

Corey LaJoie, who drives the No. 7 Chevrolet full-time for Spire Motorsports, is set to move to Elliott’s No. 9 Chevrolet in Sunday’s race, with Niece Motorsports Truck Series driver Carson Hocevar set to replace LaJoie and make his Cup Series debut.

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For those not planning to boycott the event, take advantage of FuboTV’s free trial offer now and don’t miss Sunday’s Enjoy Illinois 300 presented by TicketSmarter at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway. The race is set to be broadcast live on Fox Sports 1 beginning at 3:30 p.m. ET.