NASCAR Picks for Watkins Glen
Length: 2.450 miles
Shape: Road Course
Type: Road Course
Location: Watkins Glen, New York
For the second time this season, the Cup Series will visit a road course. Watkins Glen International will host Sunday's Cheez-It 355, and the seven-turn, 2.45-mile track tends to be the more violent of the two road courses because of the snaking stretches that allow drivers to build up some serious speed heading into the track's slower combination corners. Throw in the limited passing zones at The Glen, and the racing is generally pretty rough overall with drivers usually taking a lot more than they give.
From a fantasy standpoint, a trip to a road course is an opportunity to assemble an unconventional lineup while still having a great opportunity to put up plenty of points. Yes, there are several big names that run well at road courses, but there are also plenty of middle-tier and sleeper drivers that excel at road racing. Particularly in Yahoo! leagues and in other formats that limit the number of times a driver can be used, taking advantage of these alternative options makes a lot of sense. Not only do you still give yourself a great chance to have a successful weekend, but you save starts from the most valuable drivers for a later date. Sure, it can take a little extra time to fill out a fantasy roster at Watkins Glen, but the short-term and long-term rewards are worth the effort.
Brad Keselowski, #2 Miller Lite, Team Penske [Yahoo Class B]
His 6.5 average finish at Watkins Glen is the best in the series, and more impressively, he has finished second in the last three races at the track. During the stretch, he has scored the second-most points of any driver and has led the third-most laps. After three straight runner-up finishes at The Glen, a trip to victory lane seems overdue.
Marcos Ambrose, #9 Stanley/Dewalt Power Tools, Richard Petty Motorsports [Yahoo Class B]
Ambrose got caught up in a wreck at Watkins Glen last year, but his overall numbers at the track remain outstanding. His 6.8 average finish is the second best in the series, and he has finished in the Top 3 in five of his six starts at the track. Ambrose won at The Glen in 2011 and 2012, and he has been a threat to win in almost every start at the track.
Kyle Busch, #18 Mars Brands/Interstate Batteries, Joe Gibbs Racing [Yahoo Class A]
He is the defending winner of this weekend's race and a two-time winner at the track in his career. Meanwhile, Busch has finished in the Top 10 in his last eight starts at Watkins Glen, compiling a 5.0 average in the process. In the last three races at The Glen, Busch had led more laps and scored more points than any other driver.
Tony Stewart, #14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1, Stewart-Haas Racing [Yahoo Class B]
Stewart's 7.9 average finish at Watkins Glen is the third best in the series, but his victories at the track are the most all-time. In fact, he has finished either first or second in half of his 14 starts at The Glen, and he has finished seventh or better 10 times. It has been a rough year for Stewart, but he could end up in victory lane this weekend.
Carl Edwards, #99 Fastenal/Aflac/UPS/Subway, Roush Fenway Racing [Yahoo Class B]
He picked up his first road course win earlier this year at Sonoma, and based on his past results at Watkins Glen, Edwards could pull off a sweep of the road course events. He has finished in the Top 15 in his last eight starts at the track, and during the stretch, he has six Top-10s, including four top-five finishes. Edwards finished fourth at The Glen last year, and he should be one the safer options this weekend.
Jimmie Johnson, #48 Lowe's/Kobalt Tools, Hendrick Motorsports [Yahoo Class A]
Although Watkins Glen is one of the few tracks where Johnson has never won a race, he has been reliable at the road course, especially recently. He has finished in the Top 12 in six of his last seven starts at The Glen, and he has finished in the Top 10 in his last three starts. In fact, Johnson has scored the fourth-most points of any driver in the last three races at the track.
Kevin Harvick, #4 Budweiser/Jimmy Johns, Stewart-Haas Racing [Yahoo Class A]
Harvick is a former winner at Watkins Glen, and he has also been one of the steadier performers at the track. In 13 starts, he has 11 Top-15 finishes, including six Top-10s. Granted, Harvick hasn't had a top-five finish at The Glen since his win in 2006, but he has finished in the Top 15 in his last four starts at the track and should be a safe bet to challenge for a Top-10 this weekend.
A.J. Allmendinger, #47 Kingsford/Clorox, JTG Daugherty Racing [Yahoo Class B]
In five career starts at Watkins Glen, Allmendinger has compiled a 9.2 average finish, and he has never finished outside the Top 15. In fact, he has finished 13th or better in all five starts at the road course, cracking the Top 10 in his last three. He is a marginal fantasy option most weeks, but Allmendinger deserves consideration in all formats Sunday.
Clint Bowyer, #15 5-Hour Energy, Michael Waltrip Racing [Yahoo Class A]
His 14.4 average finish at Watkins Glen is respectable, but he has been enjoying his best stretch at the track the last few years. Bowyer has finished 11th or better in his last three starts at The Glen, logging top-six finishes in his last two starts. During the stretch, he has compiled a 7.3 average finish.
Jeff Gordon, #24 Drive to End Hunger/Axalta, Hendrick Motorsports [Yahoo Class A]
Gordon is a four-time winner at Watkins Glen and the all-time leader in road course win at the Cup level, but he has been surprisingly mediocre at The Glen lately. Since his most recent win at the track in 2001, he has managed just two Top-10s in his last 12 starts and has finished outside the Top 20 seven times during the stretch. Gordon offers plenty of upside, but given his recent slump, fantasy owners may want to temper expectations just a bit.
Kurt Busch, #41 Haas Automation, Stewart-Haas Racing [Yahoo Class A]
When he runs poorly at Watkins Glen, he runs really poorly, but Busch has also delivered his share of strong finishes. He has finished 11th or better in five of his last seven starts, finishing as high as second and logging a Top-10 last year. Busch isn't the most consistent option, but he offers plenty of upside to offset the risk.
Joey Logano, #22 Shell-Pennzoil, Team Penske [Yahoo Class B]
He has had a couple of solid showing at Watkins Glen in recent years, finishing a career-best fifth at the track in 2011 and finishing seventh last year in his first start at The Glen with Team Penske. At the very least, he should be able to challenge for another Top-10 this weekend.