Watkins Glen always provides some of the best racing on the schedule and Sunday’s “Go Bowling At The Glen” should be one of the most entertaining races of the season. It’s a short 90 lap race that will be heavy on strategy, but at the end the best drivers will be up front battling for the win.
Starting up front is always important at Watkins Glen. The “sweet spot” for reaching victory lane has been a starting position between 3rd to 6th. 8 of the last 9 Watkins Glen races have been won from a driver starting within that range. Here’s the FULL STARTING LINEUP for Watkins Glen.
Both practice sessions were held before qualifying, and the speeds can be found here: Practice #1 – Happy Hour. Also make sure you check out our Watkins Glen Speed Cheat Sheet. Our in-depth notes for those practices can be found here: Practice #1 – Happy Hour.
I’ll note this is a combined Post Practice Predictions/ Confidence Ranking Picks post. Thanks for understanding.
NOTE: Inspection is being held on Sunday and if a driver fails their qualifying time is disallowed and they start in the rear of the field. They’ll also be scored from their new starting position. Look for updates to this post and others as needed following inspection.
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1) Kyle Busch (Starting – 3rd)
Watkins Glen Fantasy Spin – Kyle Busch should be near the top of your fantasy NASCAR radar at Watkins Glen. He’s always tough to beat here, but unfortunately all too often he’s beat himself. If he didn’t have trouble in the last two races here, I think there’s a great chance he would have back to back wins. At Watkins Glen, Kyle Busch has performed at an exceptionally high-level and has consistently finished well. He’s a two-time winner who’s finished in the top ten in 12 of the last 13 races. Over the last four Watkins Glen races (among drivers who competed in every race), Busch has the best driver rating, the best average finish (3.5) and the 2nd best average running position (6.8). In practice, Kyle Busch was a stop watch standout. In practice #1 he had the best 5 lap average. In Happy Hour, Busch had the best 5 and 10 lap averages. At Sonoma, one of the other road courses on the schedule he finished 2nd earlier this year. On Sunday, look for Kyle Busch to finish in the top five and be a serious threat to win.
Watkins Glen Track History – Watkins Glen has been a great track for Kyle Busch. Minus his debut and a wreck in 2014 he’s never finished lower than 9th. Last year, Kyle Busch finished 3rd but that’s an asterisk mark result. “Performance Wise”, I thought he had the best car but his race wasn’t incident free. During a caution right around lap 54 while he was the leader he had to make a second pit stop because of a fueling issue which dropped him from 1st back to around 20th. After that he drove hard and raced his way up to a 3rd place finish. Also from the race it should be noted he earned the 2nd best driver rating, led 31 laps and still had a 5th place average running position despite his problem. In 2017, he finished 7th but once again I thought he had the best car. In that race he started on the pole, led the entire opening segment, but then during the Stage caution he made a second pit stop which dropped him back in the running order. Then later on lap 45 while he was battling Keselowski for 8th he spun out which dropped him back to the mid 30’s. Those problems make his 7th place finish pretty impressive. In 2016, Busch had a great car and finished 6th. “Performance Wise”, I thought he had the 2nd best car but late restarts were unfriendly to him. In 2015 he had a strong showing. He finished 2nd, earned the 2nd best driver rating and had a 6th place average running position.
DraftKings $11,600/ FanDuel $15,000
2) Martin Truex Jr. (Starting – 4th)
Watkins Glen Fantasy Spin – Martin Truex Jr. is a super-elite performer at road courses who’ll be tough to beat at Watkins Glen. Right now in NASCAR, nobody is a better road course racer than him. He dominated at Sonoma in June, and last year on this track type he was top 2 good or better “Performance Wise” in all three races. At Watkins Glen, Truex Jr. has thrived. He won here in 2017 and over the last three races he’s been top two good or better (Performance wise). In practice, Truex Jr. showed some speed. In practice #1 his five lap average ranked as the 4th best. In Happy Hour he ranked as the 10th best in that stat. On Sunday, look for Truex Jr. to finish in the top five and be a serious threat to win.
Watkins Glen Track History – Watkins Glen has been a phenomenal track for Martin Truex Jr. Over the last three races he has the best driver rating, the best average finish (3.3) and the best average running position (5.0). Last year, Truex Jr. had a great car. When the race reached its conclusion he finished 2nd, earned the 3rd best driver rating and had a 4th place average running position. If he didn’t sputter on fuel on the last lap he might’ve been able to pull out the win. In 2017, Truex Jr. had a great car and raced his way to victory lane. He was fast over long runs and he had enough fuel to go the distance. In 2016, Truex Jr. finished 7th, but that’s an asterisk mark result. On the last lap while he was running in 2nd and the finish line was in sight he was spun but Keselowski. Also from that race I’ll note he earned the 5th best driver rating and had an 8th place average running position.
DraftKings $11,300/ FanDuel $14,500
3) Denny Hamlin (Starting – 6th)
Watkins Glen Fantasy Spin – Denny Hamlin has a lot of momentum heading into the weekend and at Watkins Glen I would look for him to be factor. He’s a recent winner and over the last three Watkins Glen races he’s been top five good, “Performance Wise.” One attribute you have to like about Hamlin is how well he’s been running in recent weeks. He’s fresh off a win and over the last three races heading into the weekend his average finish is 2.7. In practice, Denny Hamlin had a great car. In both practice #1 and Happy Hour he had the 3rd best 5 lap average and the 2nd best 10 lap average. On Sunday, look for Denny Hamlin to compete for a top five.
Watkins Glen Track History – Watkins Glen was once a trouble spot on the schedule for Denny Hamlin, but in recent seasons he ranks among the best performers. Over the last three combined races he sports a 6.0 average finish and the 6th best driver rating. Last year, Hamlin had a great car but finished a misleading 13th. During a caution around lap 55 while he was running in 3rd he was penalized when his team had an uncontrolled tire. If that didn’t happen, I think he had a great chance to finish in the top five. In 2017, Hamlin had a strong showing and when the checkered flag waved he finished 4th and earned the 9th best driver rating. In 2016, Hamlin had a great performance and raced his way to victory lane. In the race he earned the 3rd best driver rating and had a 7th place average running position. I will note if there wasn’t a late caution he was poised to finish 3rd. That win seemed to come out of nowhere because in the six Watkins Glen races prior to that he had a 29.5 average finish.
DraftKings $9,400/ FanDuel $13,000