The NASCAR Cup Series will be back to road course racing this weekend when they travel to Watkins Glen. There have been four road course races so far this season and a few of them have been complete disasters. Will the drivers show any respect to their competitors, or will the best way to pass Sunday be to slam into the door of the other driver and push him out of the way. I hope this race is cleaner that what we had last month at Indy. The Go Bowling at the Glen can be seen Sunday at 3 p.m. ET on USA Network.
STRATEGY FOR WATKINS GLEN
This is race No. 25 on the schedule and that means we are quickly running out of allocations with our top drivers. I am not worried about saving allocations in Group A because there is plenty of talent from that group to get us through the end of the season. I will be trying to save allocations in Group B and Group C this week. There are some drivers who have run well on the road courses this year, but have not consistently run in the top-10 on the downforce tracks. I will also have a few drivers in my lineup this week for qualifying points only. We cannot forget we can score bonus points with these drivers and we wil not lose an allocation with them. We need to take advantage of this rule.
Here are the picks for the Go Bowling at the Glen …
DRIVER GROUP GAME LINEUP
GROUP A DRIVERS
CHASE ELLIOTT (4): It is going to be tough to gain any ground on the other teams in your league this week because everyone will be playing Chase Elliott. He is by far the best driver in Group A on the road courses and the best driver in the field. Elliott finished 1st, 1st and 2nd in his last three races at Watkins Glen. He also won at Road America this year. That is the most similar track to Watkins Glen. Don’t try to be cute this week. Simply plug and play the No. 9 car.
KYLE LARSON (4): I know I will be starting Chase Elliott Sunday so I need a driver who can earn me bonus points for qualifying. While Elliott has been the best driver in the race, Larson has been the best at qualifying. He won the pole at Sonoma earlier this season and he has scored bonus points for qualifying in every race at Watkins Glen since 2015. Larson won this race last year and he has three consecutive finishes in the top-eight at Watkins Glen. He will be a good play if we have to use him in the race.
GROUP A DRIVER RANKINGS: 1) Chase Elliott 2) Kyle Larson 3) Ryan Blaney 4) Kevin Harvick. 5) Martin Truex Jr. 6) Denny Hamlin 7) Kyle Busch
GROUP B DRIVERS
TYLER REDDICK (5): Somehow I have five allocations left with Reddick. I thought I used him more than that, but I guess not. Reddick is leading Group B in points scored on the road courses this year. He won the last two road course races at Road America and the Indy Grand Prix. Can he make it three in a row Sunday? I will have Reddick in my lineup and hope he has the same speed he has had in the other road course races this year.
CHRIS BUESCHER (8): Buescher came so close to winning last week. It wasn’t the first time this season Buescher had a good chance to go to Victory Lane. He was also leading the end of the race at Sonoma but got passed by Daniel Suarez in the final laps. I would not be surprised if Buescher is running in the top-five again Sunday. He finished three of the four road course races in the top-10 this year. This is a great race to use Buescher and save an allocation with one of your top drivers in Group B.
CHASE BRISCOE (4): Briscoe has a lot of talent on the road courses, but he does not have much to show for it this season. His average finishing position on the road courses is 20th. Sometimes you have to look past the finishing position and look at the raw speed of the car. Briscoe has the fourth-fastest average speed on the road courses this year. He has led laps in three of the four races. Briscoe finished ninth at Watkins Glen last year as a rookie. He should have a good chance to finish in the top-10 Sunday.
ROSS CHASTAIN (3): Chastain has been one of the best drivers on the road courses this year. He won at COTA, finished seventh at Sonoma and fourth at Road America. He will be good again this week but that is not the reason why Chastain is in my lineup. I want to save my allocations with Chastain for the oval tracks, so I plan to use him for qualifying points Sunday. If my other drivers really stink in practice and qualifying, it will be good to have Chastain as an insurance policy ready to go into my starting lineup (although I really do not want to use him).
GROUP B DRIVER RANKINGS: 1) Tyler Reddick 2) Ross Chastain 3) Chris Buescher 4) Chase Briscoe 5) Christopher Bell 6) William Byron 7) Brad Keselowski 8) Alex Bowman 9) Kurt Busch 10). Austin Dillon
GROUP C DRIVERS
AUSTIN CINDRIC (3): Which driver has been the best on the road courses this year? The obvious choice is Chase Elliott, but Tyler Reddick has won half of the races. The most consistent has been Austin Cindric. He is the only driver to finish in the top-10 in all four races. Cindric finished eighth at COTA, fifth at Sonoma, seventh at Road America and second at Indy. Cindric is the safest pick in the field this week.
MICHAEL MCDOWELL (8): The last pick in Group C was difficult. Do I want to swing for the fences and play AJ Allmendinger or play it safe with Michael McDowell? Allmendinger is awesome on the road courses and he won a Cup Series race at Watkins Glen before. He finds trouble too often in these races so I will play it safe and use McDowell. The No. 34 team needs a win t make the playoffs and the races at Watkins Glen and Daytona are two of his best tracks. McDowell finished third at Sonoma, eighth at Road America and eighth at Indy. He should have a good chance to finish in the top-10 Sunday.
GROUP C DRIVER RANKINGS: 1) Austin Cindric 2) Michael McDowell 3) Daniel Suarez 4) Justin Haley 5) Cole Custer
* Ty Gibbs will be a good choice if he is in the No. 45 car this week, but I still like Austin Cindric and Michael McDowell over Gibbs. He would be No. 4 in my Group C rankings.
** Be sure to check back Saturday evening for my starting lineup for the Driver Group Game.
Good Luck This Week!
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