The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series travels to Watkins Glen, New York this week for the Cheez-It 350 at the Glen. The series takes a break from the left-hand turns to race on the second road course track this season. Be sure to test your knowledge of NASCAR by competing in the Fox Sports Fantasy Auto Racing.
One of the biggest mistakes fantasy NASCAR players make is selecting their Watkins Glen fantasy team solely based off of what happened at Sonoma. While both tracks are road courses, the skills to turn fast laps are quite different. Watkins Glen is a momentum track which requires high speeds and the perfect rhythm through the corners. There are a few drivers who have mastered this track and they must be on each team this week. I will elaborate on who these drivers are in my picks section later in this article.
Watkins Glen was repaved following the race last season. In order for Goodyear to provide the perfect tire for the race this week, NASCAR decided to let each organization participate in a two-day tire test at the track. The drivers who participated in the test should unload from the haulers Friday with an advantage over the competition. Here are the 16 teams who tested last week...
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AJ Allmendinger (JTG Daugherty Racing, Ford)
Ryan Blaney (Wood Brothers Race, Ford)
Clint Bowyer (HScott Motorsports, Chevy)
Chris Buescher (Front Row Motorsports, Ford)
Kurt Busch (Stewart-Hass Racing, Chevy)
Kyle Busch (Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota)
Matt DiBenedetto (BK Racing, Toyota)
Austin Dillon (Richard Childress Racing, Chevy)
Chase Elliott (Hendrick Motorsports, Chevy)
Brad Keselowski (Team Penske, Ford)
Michael McDowell (Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing, Chevy)
Jamie McMurray (Chip Ganassi Racing, Chevy)
Casey Mears (Germain Racing, Chevy)
Brian Scott (Richard Petty Motorsports, Ford)
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (Roush Fenway Racing, Ford)
Martin Truex Jr. (Furniture Row Racing, Toyota)
The race Sunday is one of the shortest races of the season. The Cheez-it 350 at the Glen is only 90 laps and 220.5 miles in length. Track position will be very important this week. Drivers will not have a lot of time to make their way through the field.
The scoring system for Fox Sports Fantasy Auto Racing game rewards drivers who improve their position in the race more than the drivers who lead the most laps. Fantasy teams must be able to find drivers who can score position differential points this week. The best strategy is to pick the drivers from the top organizations who start between 10th to 20th positions. The short race will allow these drives to still have time to move their way into the top 10.
Pick to Win
Kyle Busch ($10,900) has been one of the best drivers at Watkins Glen. He has finished nine of his 11 races at the track in the top 10. Last year he won the race at Sonoma and backed it up with a second-place finish at Watkins Glen. Busch has two trips to Victory Lane at the track on his resume and he should add another Sunday. Busch is my pick to win.
Kevin Harvick ($13,800) has a series-best driver rating and the third-best average finishing position in the last two races at Watkins Glen. Harvick only has one win at the track, but he consistently runs up front. Last year Harvick led 29 laps and finished third. I expect similar results from the No. 4 car this week.
Brad Keselowski ($12,500) is usually my favorite to win at Watkins Glen, but he had a horrible crash in the tire test last week. Keselowski is one of the most mentally tough drivers in the sport but you would have to think that crash will be in the back of his mind this week. Still Keselowski has finished half of his starts at the track in the top two. That is an awesome stat that cannot be ignored. Keselowski knows how to get around this track better than most and he will be up front this week.
Kurt Busch ($11,300) is one of the most reliable drivers for fantasy teams when the series travels to Watkins Glen. Busch has the third-best driver rating and the third-best average finishing position in the last two races at the track. Busch has never been to Victory Lane at the track but he has finished six of the last seven races in the top 10. The aggressive driving style of Busch should allow the No. 41 car to finish in the top five this week.
Tony Stewart ($9,000) enters the race this week after winning the last race at a road course. His win at Sonoma was one of the biggest story lines of the 2016 season. Stewart has more wins at Watkins Glen than any driver in the field. A second win at a road course this year would write another chapter in Stewart's legendary final season in the Sprint Cup Series.
AJ Allmendinger ($8,100) is usually in the Value Picks section of my articles, but not this week. Allmendinger is arguably the best road course racer in the sport. JT Dougherty Racing puts a lot of effort into winning this race. A win this week is the team's best chance at making it into the Chase. Allmendinger was able to get the job done in 2014 and he should be the driver to beat Sunday.
Value Picks (Drivers under $9,000)
Clint Bowyer ($8,600) is one of the best road course racers in the sport, but his equipment keeps letting him down. He did not even get a chance to make a lap in the race at Sonoma before an electrical fire ended his day. Hopefully the team has that problem fixed. Bowyer has finished three of the last four races at the track in the top six. He will be a good value pick Sunday.
Greg Biffle ($7,600) could be one of the best value picks if he qualifies outside the top 20. Biffle is one of the best drivers at making his way through the field at Watkins Glen. Two years ago Biffle qualified 28th and finished eighth. Last year he started 25th and finished 14th. If the No. 16 starts deep in the field this week, he must be on every team as a value play.
Jeff Gordon ($6,100) will be one of the best value picks in the game this week. Gordon has four wins at the track and he finished nine of his 23 races in the top 10. There is no way he should be priced this low. If Gordon is going to go to Victory Lane in the No. 88 car, it should happen this week. Gordon will be a popular pick this week at Watkins Glen.
Here are my picks for the Cheex-It 350 for Fox Sports Fantasy Auto Racing:
Driver 1: Brad Keselowski $12,500
Driver 2: Kyle Busch $10,900
Driver 3: Martin Truex Jr. $9,500
Driver 4: Tony Stewart $9,000
Driver 5: AJ Allmendinger $8,100
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And don't forget - prizes are on the line each race of the fantasy season! First, second and third place each win a prize. Plus, each race builds your point total for larger segment and season prizes.