Kasey Kahne – Watkins Glen is the only track Kahne’s never finished in the top ten, and it’s home to his worst top 15 finish percentage (31%). At Watkins Glen on good days he’s been about a mid-teens driver. Last year he was a low-twenties driver. He finished 20th and had a 22nd place average running position. In 2015 had his worst result ever at Watkins Glen and finished 42nd. His poor finish is the product of being involved in a big multi-car accident on lap 50 during a restart. Prior to his problem he never ran well and looked like a low twenties performer. In 2014 Kahne had a solid afternoon. He finished a career best 12th and had a 16th place average running position. In 2013 he was around 10th place good but was caught up in a wreck with 9 laps to go. In 4 of the 5 Watkins Glen races prior to that he finished between 13th and 17th. Earlier this year at Sonoma Kahne finished 24th. That’s notable because it snapped his four race top ten streak.
David Ragan – David Ragan isn’t a good road course racer, but he hasn’t been horrendously bad in recent Watkins Glen races. In 4 of the last 5 races at this west coast track he’s finished between 19th and 23rd. Last year he was caught up in an accident and finished 33rd. Around the time of his wreck he was running in the high-twenties, so it’s not like he was having a good day anyways. In 2015 he finished 23rd. In the three races prior to that he had results of 19th, 21st and 22nd.
Denny Hamlin – Denny Hamlin should be a popular fantasy option at Watkins Glen. He’s the defending champion and in recent races at road courses nobody has been better than him. Over the last three road courses races Hamlin has a 2.3 average finish, a 6.4 average running position, and has finished in the top 4 every race. Last year at Watkins Glen Hamlin had a strong race. He finished 1st, earned the 3rd best driver rating and had a 7th place average running position. I will note if it wasn’t for a late restart he would’ve finished 3rd. If you’re thinking of picking Hamlin don’t look any further back at his track record because it’s so bad. In the six races prior to that he finished 19th or worse. In 2015 he had a tough race and finished 27th. In 2014 Hamlin was on pace to have an OK race but it unraveled late. With 4 laps to go while he was running in 13th he spun into the sand barrels at the entrance of pit road and damaged his car. In the race he finished 24th, had a 16th place average running position and earned the 17th best driver rating. Earlier this year at Sonoma Hamlin finished 4th.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will never be known as a road course racer. Between the two road courses he’s never finished better than 18th. At Watkins he had “decent” afternoons in his first two races, in his last two he’s been really bad. If Stenhouse Jr. has an incident free race I would look for him to likely be around 20th place good. Last year he wrecked and finished 38th. Performance wise I would estimate he was maybe around 20th place good. In 2015 he didn’t run well. He started 30th, had a 28th place average running position and finished 34th. In 2014 he finished 20th, had a 25th place average running position and earned the 28th best driver rating. His average running position is more reflective of his performance because he wasn’t that good. In 2013 he made his Watkins Glen debut and had his best result. He finished 18th but don’t overlook his 27th best driver rating and 29th place average running position.
Landon Cassill – At Watkins Glen Landon Cassill has a 27.6 average finish. If you’re thinking of picking him look for him to finish around that range. Almost all of his results are within a few deviations of that. Last year Cassill finished 23rd which tied his best previous result at this serpentine track. Additionally in the race he had a 28th place average running position. In the three races prior to that he had finishes of 35th, 29th and 28th. At Sonoma earlier this year Cassill finished 30th.
Austin Dillon – At Watkins Glen I view Austin Dillon as a high-teens to low-twenties driver if he has an incident free race. I don’t see him finishing better than that range. In 5 of his 7 races on this track type he’s finished between 16th and 22nd. The bad news is that his two results outside of that range were both at Watkins Glen. Last year at Watkins Glen Austin Dillon had a tough race and was involved in an accident which led to his 31st place finish. In 2015 the race didn’t go smoothly for him. Around lap 40 he spun with Larson while they were running in 12th and 14th. That damaged his car and on lap 45 he had a flat tire that caused pretty notable damage to his left rear. After that you could stick a fork in him. In his first Watkins Glen race he had a 21st place average running position and finished 16th.
Chris Buescher – Chris Buescher has two starts under his belt at Watkins Glen and neither race has went well for him. Last year he was involved in a late wreck and finished 30th. His average running position for the afternoon was 29th. Prior to wrecking he was running in 27th. In 2015 during his debut he had some sort of problem under his hood which quickly dropped him a lap down. When the checkered flag waved he finished two laps down in 30th. At Sonoma earlier this year he had his best race by far on road courses so there is hope for him. At that west coast track he finished 19th, had a 16th place average running position and earned the 16th best driver rating.
Michael McDowell – Michael McDowell is a decent road course driver. Now that he’s starting to get better equipment underneath him he should be considered a dark horse fantasy option. At Sonoma earlier this year he had his best performance on this track type. In that race he finished 14th. In the last two races at Watkins Glen he’s had his best two starts. Last year he finished 17th and had a 21st place average running position. In 2015 he had his next best result and finished 20th. In the five Watkins Glen races prior to that he finished 37th or worse.
Erik Jones – If you’re in an allocation league avoid Erik Jones. In any type of league he really doesn’t appear to be a great prospect. Road courses are tough and he doesn’t have much track time on this track type. At Sonoma earlier this year Jones finished 25th and had a 25th place average running position. Last year in the lower series at Watkins Glen Jones finished 12th. Performance wise on Sunday I think a mid to high-teens finish should be viewed as a good result.
Daniel Suarez – Daniel Suarez will likely be a mid-teens to high-teens driver at Watkins Glen if things go smoothly. Earlier this year at Sonoma he had a good debut and finished 16th. Watkins Glen is an easier track to navigate so he’ll be able to better take advantage of his equipment advantage on much of the field. Last year at Watkins Glen in the Xfinity Series Suarez finished 4th.
Ty Dillon – I don’t think a lot of good will come from picking Ty Dillon at Watkins Glen. His brother isn’t a good road course racer and I’m sure he’s in the same boat. Earlier this year at Sonoma he didn’t run well. He finished 28th and had a 28th place average running position. Last year at Watkins Glen in the lower series he finished 11th. In the two prior seasons he finished 5th and 8th. On Sunday I would look for him to be a mid-twenties driver.