On Sunday, NASCAR will finally be returning! From the Olympic break, but much more importantly to Watkins Glen which was last visited in 2019! Watkins Glen is NASCAR’s oldest road course (visited since 1957), and I would argue the best. It’s a venue where drivers really get up on the wheel and race aggressively. Watkins Glen hasn’t been visited for a few years, but I expect drivers to pick up right where they left off.
In terms of variables I want in a driver at Watkins Glen I want ….
- A driver who’s performed at a high-level at road courses visited in 2021. In terms of relevance, I would go Road America, Sonoma, Daytona Road Course and then COTA (rain). Here’s Road Course 2021 Track Type Total Speed Rankings.
- A driver with a great track record at Watkins Glen
- A driver who’s performing at a high-level and clicking off good results in recent races. Here’s Total Speed Ranking Momentum Over The Last Six Races.
- A driver starting relatively near the front (10 of the last 11 Watkins Glen races have been won from a top 6 starting position). Here’s the Watkins Glen starting lineup.
Watkins Glen Fantasy NASCAR Rankings
1) Kyle Larson (Starting – 4th)
Watkins Glen Fantasy Spin – At Watkins Glen, look for Kyle Larson to be a top five contender who’ll be a factor to win. Larson’s been one of the premiere performers at road courses this year, and he was also strong at Watkins Glen back in his #42 days. This year at road courses, Larson has been a serious factor to win 3 of the 4 races.
Watkins Glen Track History – Watkins Glen has been a great track for Larson. Currently at Watkins Glen, Larson has back to back top 8’s. In 2019 when the series most recently raced here, Larson led 6 laps (pit strategy), finished 8th, had the 5th best Total Speed Ranking and ranked as the 6th Fastest Driver Late In A Run. In 2018, Larson finished 6th, earned the 7th best driver rating and had an 8th place average running position. In 2017, Larson showed potential early, but it wasn’t a good race. He finished 4th in Stage #1, but during the Stage break he used pit strategy and didn’t pit. Essentially, that seemed to be his demise because the race never played to his hand and when the checkered flag waved he finished 23rd. In 2016, Larson was a top five contender, but finished a misleading 29th after getting wrecked on the last lap while running in 5th. In the two Watkins Glen races prior to that, Larson had results of 12th (2015) and 4th (2014).
Road Course Overall Prowess – Kyle Larson is a strong road course racer and this year in the #5, he’s been impressive. In 2021 on this track type, Larson dominated at Sonoma en route to victory lane (led 57 laps), finished 2nd at COTA, crashed late at the Daytona Road Course while making a pass for 2nd and then finished 16th at Road America.
DraftKings $10,200/ FanDuel $13,500
2) Martin Truex Jr. (Starting – 9th)
Watkins Glen Fantasy Spin – Martin Truex Jr. should prominently be on your fantasy NASCAR radar at Watkins Glen. This New York track has been a phenomenal venue for Truex, and over the last three races his results are 2nd, 2nd and 1st. On Sunday, look for Truex to be a top five contender who’ll be a factor to win.
Watkins Glen Track History – Martin Truex Jr. has been a stellar performer at Watkins Glen and if it wasn’t for Chase Elliott, Truex would have three straight wins. In 2019, Truex had a great performance. He finished 3rd in Stage #1, 2nd in Stage #2, 2nd overall, had a 3.3 average running position, was the Fastest Driver Late In A Run and had the 2nd best Total Speed Ranking. His speed over the segments were 2,2,2 and 1. In 2018, Truex had a great performance. When the checkered flag waved he finished 2nd, earned the 3rd best driver rating and had a 4th place average running position. In 2017, Truex was fast and raced his way to victory lane. He excelled over long runs and had enough fuel to go the distance. In addition to winning he earned the best driver rating, had a 3rd place average running position, led a race high 24 laps and finished 2nd in the first two Stages. In 2016, Truex finished a misleading 7th. When the finish line was in sight on the final lap, Keselowski spun him while he was running in 2nd.
Road Course Overall Prowess – Martin Truex Jr. is a four-time road course winner who ranks as one of the best on this track type, but he’s had a down year. Since 2018 at road courses minus COTA (crashed in the rain), this years race at the Daytona Road Course (was in 3rd prior to the “Rain caution”) and the Charlotte Roval in 2018 (spun out while leading in the final turn), Truex has 2 wins, a 3.9 average finish, a 6.7 average running position and he’s had a result in the top 9 every race. This year at road courses, Truex has results of 3rd (Sonoma), 9th (Road America), 12th (Daytona RC) and 35th (COTA). In 2020 on this track type, Truex had results of 3rd (Daytona RC) and 7th (Charlotte Roval).
DraftKings $10,400/ FanDuel $13,000
3) Chase Elliott (Starting in the back but will be scored from 11th)
Watkins Glen Fantasy Spin – Chase Elliott has back to back wins at Watkins Glen and on Sunday, look for the “Road Course King” to resume his crown and be the driver to beat. Elliott’s won 7 of the last 11 road course races, and this year, nobody’s been better. He’s won half the races, should’ve won a third (Daytona RC) and at Sonoma he finished 2nd. In terms of Track Type Total Speed Rankings, Elliott ranks #1!
Watkins Glen Track History – Chase Elliott is a two-time winner at Watkins Glen and in 2019 when the series last raced here, Elliott put on a display of domination. In the race, Elliott started on the pole, finished 1st, had a 1.3 average running position, led 80 laps and was just .3 shy of earning a perfect driver rating. In terms of speed analytics, Elliott had the best Total Speed Ranking and his speed over the segments were 1st, 1st, 1st and then 2nd. In terms of speed late in a run, Elliott ranked #2. In 2018, Elliott had a great performance and raced his way to victory lane for the first win of his career. In addition to finishing first, Elliott earned the best driver rating, had a 3rd place average running position and led a race high 52 laps.
Road Course Overall Prowess – Chase Elliott is the premiere road course racer in NASCAR and since Watkins Glen 2018 on this track type minus this years race at the Daytona Road Course (robbed in the “rain”), and 2019 at Sonoma (engine blew up while running in 3rd), Elliott has won 7 of the 9 races and has a 1.7 average finish. This year at road courses, Elliott has been the class of the field. He finished 1st at Road America (led 24 laps), 1st at COTA (led 5 laps), 2nd at Sonoma and at the Daytona Road Course he led 44 laps and dominated until the “Rain manipulation caution” robbed him of certain victory (Finished 21st). In 2020 at road courses, Elliott went 2 for 2 at reaching victory lane.
DraftKings $10,600/ FanDuel $14,500