There are only five races before the start of the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. Just to make things interesting, NASCAR has a road course scheduled this week to test the driver’s skills. Pit strategy always comes into play on the road courses so we will likely see some teams short-pitting to set them up for a run to the checkered flag and other teams scoring as many Stage points as possible to ensure their spot in the playoffs remains secured. It should be fun to see how it all plays out at Watkins Glen. The Go Bowling at the Glen can be seen Sunday at 3 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network.
NASCAR will be back to a condensed schedule. The MENCS will have two practices Saturday. The first practice is at 10:30 a.m. ET and final practice is at 1 p.m. ET (both on NBCSN). Qualifying is Saturday evening at 6:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN).
* The MENCS will be back to the crazy inspection process. The cars will qualify Saturday and they will be inspected Sunday morning. All cars who fail the inspection Sunday morning will start from the back. Their official starting position will be from the back and they will be scored from the back in Fantasy NASCAR.
The cars will be back to 750 HP engines and the aero ducts will be removed. The cars will still have the 2” splitter and 8” spoiler but the cars will be a lot more like the cars that competed at Watkins Glen in the past. I expect the cars that have had success at this track before, will be up front Sunday.
Denny Hamlin won the pole at Watkins Glen last year but he was only able to lead 2 laps. Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. are always good on the road courses and it was no different last year at Watkins Glen. The No. 18 car led 31 laps and finished 3rd. Truex only led 4 laps but he scored 15 Stage points and finished 2nd. In the end it was Chase Elliott who used the voice of his father (Bill Elliott) as his spotter to get to Victory Lane. It was his first win in the Cup Series.
Race Rewind at Watkins Glen: Go Bowling at the Glen (2018)
Here are my picks for Watkins Glen…
DraftKings NASCAR Preview
The race this week is 90 laps (220 miles). That means there will be 22.5 points available for leading laps and 45 points available for fastest laps. The trend at Watkins Glen is to have one driver lead around 32 laps, another lead 26 laps and two other drivers lead 10-12 laps each. These drivers usually score most of the fastest laps too since there are no cars in front of them to slow them down. The top dominator only scores 20 dominator points so it will be more important to focus on place differential and finishing position points Sunday.
The drivers I expect to dominate the race Sunday include: Martin Truex Jr., Chase Elliott, Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski and Daniel Suarez
Top 15 DraftKings Drivers in Last 3 Races at Watkins Glen
|Avg. Finish Pos.||Laps Led||
|1. Martin Truex Jr.||
|2. Daniel Suarez||
|3. Kurt Busch||
|4. Kyle Busch||
|5. William Byron||
|6. Chase Elliott||
|7. Clint Bowyer||
|8. Brad Keselowski||
|9. Denny Hamlin||
|10. Alex Bowman||
|11. Erik Jones||
|12. Ryan Blaney||
|13. Ty Dillon||
|14. Paul Menard||
|15. Michael McDowell||
I will post my final DraftKings picks no later than Saturday evening.
Fantasy Live Preview
The Fantasy Live picks bounced back after a poor week at New Hampshire. The picks are once again beating 99% of the competition. I was able to save allocations with Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch last week so now we are in great shape to climb in our league standings.
*Pick for the Pole*: Our pick for the pole needs to be in before qualifying at 6:30 ET Saturday. My pole pick will be posted after the final practice Saturday (2 p.m. ET).
Here are the drivers I have penciled in right now…
5 Starting Drivers
Martin Truex Jr. (3): Truex has been the best road course driver in the MENCS and it is not even close. In the last five road course races, Truex finished 1st, 14th, 2nd, 1st and 1st. The only finish outside the top 2 was at the Charlotte Roval last year when he was running 2nd and spun out by Jimmie Johnson on the last lap. Truex is also good at scoring Stage points. He finished 1st, 2nd, 2nd and 5th in the last two races at Watkins Glen. I expect another top 3 finish from the No. 19 car Sunday.
Chase Elliott (3): Elliott said after the race at Watkins Glen last year, “I spent a lot of time with Jeff Gordon and my father in the simulator trying to improve my road course skills. They showed me what I was doing wrong and their advice worked.” Wow, did it ever work. Elliott qualified 3rd, led a race-high 52 laps, won Stage 2 and went to Victory Lane for the first time in the Cup Series. This is a good race to use another allocation with the No. 9 car.
Clint Bowyer (3): Watkins Glen ranks as the 4th best track for Bowyer. He has never won in up-state New York, but he consistently finishes in the top 10. Bowyer is on the playoff bubble so the No. 14 team will use pit strategy to score a lot of Stage points and try to finish in the top 10. Bowyer has the road course skills to get the job done. I will burn another allocation with Bowyer Sunday.
Erik Jones (6): Jones is not the first driver that comes to mind when people think of road course racers, but he has had some success. Jones has two races at Watkins Glen on his resume and his average finishing position is 7.5. Not too bad. Jones started deep in the field (32nd) at Sonoma earlier this year and he was able to finish 8th. Jones needs points to stay in the playoff race, so I expect the No. 20 team to use pit strategy to score a lot of Stage points and finish in the top 10 Sunday.
Daniel Suarez (9): Everyone knows that Martin Truex Jr. has been the best driver over the last two seasons at Watkins Glen but do you know who is second-best? It is Suarez. He finished 3rd at Watkins Glen in 2017 and 4th last year. Suarez grew up racing on the road courses and his skills have translated into success in the Cup Series. Suarez is another driver who needs points so I expect the No. 41 team to use pit strategy to score a lot of Stage points and finish up front this week.
My Garage Driver this week will likely be William Byron (10). Byron qualified 16th and finished 8th in his first start at Watkins Glen. I was told that Byron spent a lot of time in the simulator with Jeff Gordon over the last month, preparing for this race. Gordon helped Chase Elliott get to Victory Lane last year. Could he have the same success with Byron Sunday? I plan to have Byron in the Garage just in case he did learn something.
My Bonus Picks will be updated after I see the cars on the track this weekend. Here are my thoughts right now…
Pick for the Pole: Kyle Larson
Stage 1 Winner: Martin Truex Jr.
Stage 2 Winner: Martin Truex Jr.
Race Winner: Martin Truex Jr.
Winning Manufacture: Toyota
*Stats from Driveraverages.com, Racing-Reference.Info and NASCAR Media.
** Photos from NASCAR Media
If you need any further advice with your team, look for me on Twitter @MrFantasyNASCAR
If you like Fantasy NASCAR, LIKE my Fantasy NASCAR Tips Page on Facebook