The NASCAR Cup Series will travel to Watkins Glen this week for another road course race. This is race No. 25 on the schedule. That means there are only two races left in the regular season and two races left in the Fantasy Live game. The picks are currently outscoring 99.8% of the entries on the nascar.com site. There is still room for improvement. I will do my best to ensure we end the regular season on a high note.
Here are the Fantasy Live Points so far this year….
STRATEGY FOR WATKINS GLEN
The strategy this week is the same as it was for the Brickyard. We need to use the best road course racers available. These drivers include Tyler Reddick, Chase Elliott, Christopher Bell, Kyle Larson, Michael McDowell, AJ Allmendinger, Kyle Busch, Chris Buescher, Daniel Suarez and Denny Hamlin. You should be in good shape if you simply stick to this list of drivers Sunday.
CUP SERIES PRACTICE SPEEDS
The Cup Series had a 20-minute practice session to shake down their cars for Sunday’s race. Watkins Glen is a large road course, so the drivers did not have much time to make many long runs. Traffic also comes into play during practice on the road courses. That makes it tougher to gage which drivers actually had the best cars. We can get a better understanding of the speeds each car has by looking at which cars were fastest in practice and showed up with the same speed in qualifying. The drivers who are at the top of both speed charts are the drivers you will want in your lineup Sunday.
Here are the practice speeds for the Go Bowling at the Glen….
FANTASY LIVE LINEUP FOR WATKINS GLEN
KYLE LARSON (1): Watkins Glen has been the best road course track for Larson. He won the last two races at Watkins Glen and his average finishing position at the track since 2017 is fourth. Larson also finished in the top-seven in the last two road course races (seventh at Chicago and sixth last week at Indy). I still have one allocation left with Larson. I do not need it at Daytona, so I will use it this week at Watkins Glen.
TYLER REDDICK (2): There is no doubt that Reddick is one of the best road course racers in the Cup Series. Watkins Glen is his worst road course track, but his average finishing position at this track is eighth. That is better than every driver in the field except Chase Elliot and Christopher Bell. Reddick should be a lock for a top-10 finish, with the upside to go to Victory Lane Sunday.
AJ ALLMENDINGER (8): Can we trust Allmendinger? We all know he has the talent to win this race. He won at Watkins Glen in 2014 and he finished second last year. The No. 16 team has not been dominant on the road courses this year, but Allmendinger looked good Saturday. The No. 16 car posted the fastest lap in practice and qualified sixth for the race. Allmendinger needs a win to make the playoffs. He should be running up front with a good chance to be in Victory Lane at Watkins Glen.
MICHAEL MCDOWELL (7): I knew McDowell was a good road course racer, but I did not know he was “blow away the field” good. It is hard to fade McDowell after what we saw last week at the Brickyard. McDowell has now finished 1st, 7th, 7th and 12th in the four road course races this year. That is the best in the Cup Series. McDowell qualified third, led 14 laps, scored 11 Stage Points and finished sixth at Watkins Glen last year. I expect a similar race from the No. 34 team Sunday.
KYLE BUSCH (1): I have one allocation left with Busch so I will use it Sunday. Busch finished second at COTA, second at Sonoma and fifth at the Chicago Street Course. Rowdy was running in the top-10 last week when his engine lost a cylinder. He should bounce back Sunday. Busch posted the eighth-fastest speed in practice and qualified ninth for the race. It also helps that Busch had the Xfinity Series race to get his rhythm down for the Cup Series race Sunday.
(GARAGE PICK) CHASE ELLIOTT (3): Elliott has not won a road course race in the Gen-7 car, but he has been knocking on Victory Lane’s door. He finished second last week at Indianapolis and now he gets to compete at his best road course track. Elliott won this race in 2018 and 2019. He finished second in 2021 and fourth last year (NASCAR did not race at Watkins Glen in 2020). Elliott is averaging 40 laps led and he has won two poles in his last four races at Watkins Glen. Elliott is a great driver to have in the Garage as an insurance policy Sunday.
Good luck and be sure to follow me on Twitter @MrFantasyNASCAR. I will send out a Tweet during the race to let you know if I plan to swap out one of my drivers for my Garage pick.