NASCAR Picks for Watkins Glen
Length: 2.450 miles
Shape: Road Course
Type: Road Course
Location: Watkins Glen, New York
For the second and final time in 2013, the Sprint Cup Series will visit a road course this weekend. Watkins Glen International is the site of Sunday's Cheez-It 355 at The Glen, and the seven-turn, 2.45-mile road course has produced its share of epic battles, including last year's unforgettable duel between Marcos Ambrose and Brad Keselowski that saw the two drivers exchange the lead several times during the final lap on an oil-soaked track. In general, Watkins Glen tends to be the more violent of the two road courses because of several snaking stretches that allow drivers to build up some serious speed heading into the track's challenging combination corners. Not to mention the fact that the bumping and banging that goes on at Sonoma still goes on at Watkins Glen, only at higher speeds. Granted, the traditional road course aces have excelled for the most part at The Glen, but many of the top road course drivers have had a poor outing or two at the track. Owners that take time to assemble a solid road course lineup should have a strong day, but just keep in mind that the chances of things going sour are a little bit better than they were a few months ago at Sonoma.
Marcos Ambrose, #9 Stanley/Dewalt Power Tools, Richard Petty Motorsports [Yahoo Class B]
His numbers at Watkins Glen are nothing short of ridiculous. He has compiled a 2.0 average finish in five starts at the track, and he has never finished worse than third. More importantly, he has won back-to-back races at the road course. If you play in a survivor-type league and haven't used Ambrose yet, this is the week to do so.
Kyle Busch, #18 Mars Brands/Interstate Batteries, Joe Gibbs Racing [Yahoo Class B]
Despite being known for his checkers or wreckers attitude, Busch has been surprisingly consistent at Watkins Glen. He has finished in the top 10 in his last seven starts at the track, giving him the longest active streak of top-10s of any driver. During the streak, Busch has one win and has compiled a 5.7 average finish.
Jimmie Johnson, #48 Lowe's/Kobalt Tools, Hendrick Motorsports [Yahoo Class A]
While Watkins Glen is one of the few tracks where Johnson has never won, he has been putting up strong numbers recently. He has five top-12 finishes in his last six starts at the track, and he has finished as high as third on two occasions, including last year. He may not win Sunday, but Johnson is still one of the safest bets to deliver a top-five finish.
Juan Montoya, #42 Target, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing [Yahoo Class B]
In six starts at Watkins Glen, Montoya has four top-seven finishes sandwiched between a pair of wrecks. Montoya is also a two-time road course winner with one of the victories coming at The Glen in 2010. He actually ran out of gas while running second on the final lap at Sonoma earlier this year, but there is no denying that Montoya has top-five potential whenever he shows up at a road course.
Brad Keselowski, #2 Miller Lite, Penske Racing [Yahoo Class A]
Keselowski came out on the losing end of an incredible duel with Marcos Ambrose on the final lap at Watkins Glen last year, but he is starting to make a habit of finishing near the front at the road course. He has an 8.0 average finish in three starts at The Glen, and Keselowski has been the runner-up at the track in each of the last two races there.
Kurt Busch, #78 Furniture Row, Furniture Row Racing [Yahoo Class B]
His strong runs at road courses in recent years have helped revive his career to a degree, and Busch should continue to deliver great results for fantasy owners this weekend. After all, he has finished 11th or better in four of his last six starts at Watkins Glen and finished second in the 2010 event. Busch also recovered from a pair of speeding penalties to finish fourth at Sonoma earlier this year, so there is no denying his ability to get around at the road courses.
A.J. Allmendinger, #47 Kingsford/Clorox, JTG Daugherty Racing [Yahoo Class C]
Fantasy owners looking for a sleeper this weekend don't have to look any further than Allmendinger. His 9.0 average finish at Watkins Glen is actually the fourth best among active drivers, and in four starts, he has never finished outside the top 10. Meanwhile, Allmendinger has finished eighth or better in his last two starts at the road course.
Carl Edwards, #99 Fastenal/Aflac/UPS/Subway, Roush Fenway Racing [Yahoo Class B]
Although he has never won a road course race in the Cup Series, Edwards has been very reliable at Watkins Glen. He has never finished outside the top 20 in eight career starts at the track, and he has finished inside the top 15 in his last seven starts. Edwards owns a 9.4 average finish at The Glen, and he is a safe bet to finish in or around the top-10 this weekend.
Jeff Gordon, #24 Drive to End Hunger/Axalta, Hendrick Motorsports [Yahoo Class A]
Despite being a four-time winner at Watkins Glen and a nine-time road course winner at the Cup level, he has been average at The Glen recently. Since his last win at the track in 2001, Gordon has managed just two top-10s in 11 starts and doesn't have a single top-five during the stretch. His overall road racing numbers are too good to write him off completely, but fantasy owners should consider him more of a high-upside pick rather than a sure thing.
Martin Truex, Jr., #56 NAPA Auto Parts, Michael Waltrip Racing [Yahoo Class B]
Truex is trying for a season sweep of the road course events, and considering he has traditionally been better at Watkins Glen, he just might pull it off. In seven starts at the track, he has logged five top-15 finishes, including three straight. Truex also has back-to-back top-10s at The Glen and has three finishes of sixth or better overall.
Kevin Harvick, #29 Budweiser/Rheem, Richard Childress Racing [Yahoo Class A]
He won at Watkins Glen in 2006, and Harvick has always been one of the more consistent performers at the road course. In 12 starts at The Glen, he has finished in the top 15 on 10 occasions, including three straight. Harvick has also finished seventh or better six times at the track.
Matt Kenseth, #20 Husky/Dollar General, Joe Gibbs Racing [Yahoo Class A]
Kenseth isn't known as a road racer, and he has actually never finished in the top five at Watkins Glen. However, he has finished in the top 15 in his last six starts at the track, and his eighth-place run last year tied his career best at The Glen. Fantasy owners should still save Kenseth for another week in Yahoo! leagues, but don't be surprised if he sneaks into the top 10.