Last weekend it was a fuel-strategy finish where Denny Hamlin was able to add to his series-high wins at the Tricky Triangle and pick up his third win of the campaign. This weekend the series heads to New York for a little road course racing at Watkins Glen. This could be another race where we see a first time winner like Chase Elliott last year or an outsider shake up the playoff picture like AJ Allmendinger did a few years back.
As for my picks, most of them held to form, even with the late tech inspection failures shaking up the field just a few hours before the drop of the green flag. Always monitor these things on race weekends where there’s an impound, as will be the case this weekend with no practice following qualifying. Byron was one of my favorite picks even before he failed tech, starting in the pack made him a virtual lock in all lineups and he responded with a top 5 finish. Other guys that started in the back due to tech that raced into the top 20 were Blaney, Johnson, Dillon & Buescher. Chase Elliott had his bad luck continue with his day coming to an abrupt end, and Kyle Busch finished in the top 10 although he had the race in hand and watched another win slip away. I had a lot of Denny Hamlin in my lineups which led to me cashing in the majority of builds, even with Chase Elliott in a few.
Watkins Glen Preview:
There’s a couple top guys to key on this weekend at Watkins Glen. First up is my top pick from last weekend who came up short, Kyle Busch. The driver of the No. 18 is the only guy in the field with multiple wins at The Glen, he also leads the field in top 5’s with 6, top 10’s with 12 and laps led. Martin Truex Jr. is probably the best active road course racer in the field as he’s owned Sonoma and won this race two years ago while backing it up with a runner-up finish last year. Clint Bowyer has the best career average finish on road courses among active drivers at 11.68 with 16 top 10’s in 28 career races.
A couple other guys to key on include Daniel Suarez, Ryan Blaney, William Byron and Chris Buescher. Suarez has two top-four finishes in his only career starts at the Glen. Blaney has an average finish of 10.00 over the last two years, had a great run last weekend and won at the Roval last year. Byron finished 8th here last year and that team has totally clicked of late, consistent runs strung together and he looked good at Sonoma a few weeks back leading 21 laps. Buescher benefited from working alongside Allmendinger all those years at JTG and is primed for another great run. He has not finished outside the top 20 over the last 5 road course races and is consistently finishing ahead of where he starts and hovering near the top 10. Maybe he breaks through with a surprise win on Sunday?
Watkins Glen Odds:
-Kyle Busch 5/2
-Martin Truex Jr. 7/2
-Denny Hamlin, Chase Elliott 10/1
-Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski 12/1
-Ryan Blaney 14/1
-Kurt Busch 16/1
-Daniel Suarez 25/1
-Kyle Larson, Jimmie Johnson, Erik Jones 30/1
-William Byron 40/1
-Matt DiBenedeto 80/1
-Daniel Hemeric, Chris Buescher 200/1
Watkins Glen DraftKings Picks:
Kyle Busch ($11,600): The numbers speak for themselves for Busch at Watkins Glen and he certainly has backed that up with on-track speed. Busch was fastest in consecutive lap average in final practice, top 5 in both sessions and starts 3rd so he will have track position all day. You can’t risk fading the 18 car.
Denny Hamlin ($9,400): Last week’s winner looks like he could contend for another this weekend. Like his teammate, he’s had the speed top 10 in both sessions and was second fastest in consecutive lap average. I will consistently pick Hamlin with the price he is at, hugely undervalued compared to his teammates, and he’s going to be a championship contender this year. Rolls off 6th.
Ryan Blaney ($8,900): Blaney has had the recent results to warrant a selection this weekend and has also been inside the top 5 in lap average for both practice sessions on Saturday. Pair that with a 19th place starting position on Sunday and he’s worked his way into your lineup plans.
Daniel Suarez ($8,100): I haven’t quite seen the speed I was looking for from Suarez, but the results back him up at this race track. Like his teammate Harvick, perhaps they were just off on Saturday and will find the balance they are searching for on Sunday. Starting 18th certainly helps his case.
William Byron ($7,200): Byron ran well here last year, ran well at Sonoma and has had the blazing speed this weekend in the 24 car starting on the front row. It’s certainly risky from the place differential perspective, but you simply cannot beat the value he could return at this price. A great compliment to the 18 car as I think those are the guys along with Hamlin that will be battling it out for the win.
Chris Buescher ($7,700): Buescher was top 15 in both practice sessions speed wise and I keyed on his past performances on road courses over recent years. I’m big on the 37 this weekend and even though he will start 16th, I will find a way to build him into my lineups.
Ryan Newman ($7,400): Newman had a top 10 earlier this year on a road course and had a top 20 finish last year at WGI. The way this team has been fighting for the playoffs and consistently getting the most out of their equipment, i I would get him in your lineup starting 25th on Sunday.
Matt DiBenedetto ($6,500): Matty D, baby!! With this team he’s scored a top 6 earlier this year at Sonoma and has looked like he will steal a great position this weekend with Wheels alongside him. My favorite value pick of the week. The No. 95 starts 20th on Sunday and was top 5 in speed in final practice and top 10 in consecutive lap average.
*Starting positions may change due to post-qualifying tech inspection on Sunday morning. Stay tuned for updates from reporters live at the track to update selections*
Watkins Glen Race Winner Prediction:
After missing out last weekend, Busch is due and I’m sure not too happy after having the Xfinity race taken away from him after having the best car by a mile. He’s got the speed and results and will be the driver to beat at the Glen. I would love to see a first-time winner come in and win on strategy and consequently flip the playoff picture on it’s head be it Buescher or DiBi.