Fantasy NASCAR at Watkins Glen 2014: Picks, Top Drivers for Cheez-It 355
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series travels to Watkins Glen, New York, this week for the Cheez-It 355 at The Glen.
Watkins Glen is the easier of the two road courses. The turns are not as tight as they are at Sonoma, and the course has much more speed. The two things that teams must overcome this week are wheel hop and issues with their brakes. Teams that can control the balance of their cars will run up front.
The race at Watkins Glen last year was filled with wrecks. Jeff Gordon was trying to make his way through the field when he hit the wall on Lap 14. With 10 laps to go, Marcos Ambrose could not get going, causing Dale Earnhardt Jr., Matt Kenseth and Kasey Kahne to wreck. A few laps later, Ambrose got loose again, and Max Papis wrecked him and Brian Vickers. In the end, Kyle Busch outraced Brad Keselowski to the checkered flag.
The Sprint Cup Series raced at Sonoma seven weeks ago, but fantasy teams should not focus on the drivers who ran well at the road course in California.
The misconception in NASCAR is that drivers who run well at Sonoma will run well at Watkins Glen. The tracks are different, though, and require a different skill set to get to Victory Lane. Last year, only four drivers finished in the top 10 at both races (Martin Truex Jr., Carl Edwards, Kurt Busch and Jimmie Johnson).
Here are my fantasy picks for the Cheez-It 355 at Watkins Glen.
Yahoo Group A Picks
Fantasy teams will be able to watch two practices Friday before their Yahoo Fantasy Auto Racing teams must be selected Saturday morning. Be sure to take advantage of this opportunity to see which drivers have the fast cars in practice.
There are many good choices in Group A for the race Sunday. The popular drivers this week will be Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson. Both drivers will probably run up front, but the smart decision is to save Gordon and Johnson for the downforce race tracks and choose other drivers this week.
Here are the two drivers I selected for Group A, with the number of allocations I have left with each driver in parentheses.
Kyle Busch (7)
Kyle Busch has become one of the best drivers at Watkins Glen. He won this race last year and has a series-best driver rating in the last two races at the race track. Other than his first race at Watkins Glen, Busch has finished every race inside the top 10. He is the safest pick in the field this week.
Clint Bowyer (9)
Clint Bowyer needs a win to make the Chase, and the race at Watkins Glen may be his best chance. Bowyer has the third-best driver rating the last two years at the race track, and he has never finished worse than sixth place since joining Michael Waltrip Racing. This would be a great week to use Bowyer for your team.
Other good choices: Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Kurt Busch
Yahoo Group B Picks
It will be hard to gain any ground on your competition this week in Group B. Most teams will start Marcos Ambrose. He is the best choice from Group B, so it will be hard to justify sitting him on your bench and using another driver. Teams will have to gain ground using the other three choices for your team.
Here are the four drivers I selected for Group B.
Marcos Ambrose (8)
Marcos Ambrose is known to be the best driver in the Sprint Cup Series on the road courses. There are other drivers who can compete with him at Sonoma, but very few can match his abilities at Watkins Glen. Ambrose has the second-best driver rating at the race track, and he finished five of his six starts in the top three. Those numbers are too good to ignore in fantasy racing this week.
Carl Edwards (5)
Carl Edwards is not having much success this season on the 1.5-mile race tracks, so it may be worth it to select him at his best road course. Edwards has never been to Victory Lane at Watkins Glen, but he has finished six of his nine starts in the top 10. Last season, Edwards finished fourth in this race. Do not be surprised to see him up front again this week.
Brad Keselowski (2)
What should you do with Brad Keselowski this week? His numbers at Watkins Glen are too good to ignore. He has finished second in the last three races at the track, but it will be hard to use an allocation with him at such a risky track. Select Keselowski for your team this week and hope your other drivers qualify up front and you can avoid using him. If they fail to qualify up front, use Keselowski and enjoy the reward.
AJ Allmendinger (8)
It was hard to decide between AJ Allmendinger and Tony Stewart this week. Both drivers usually run well at Watkins Glen, but both are hard to trust. Allmendinger is a very good road-course driver, and he is much better at Watkins Glen than he is at Sonoma. He's finished the last three races at the track inside the top 10 and is a good pick to finish in the top 10 Sunday.
Other good choices: Tony Stewart, Martin Truex Jr. and Joey Logano
Yahoo Group C Picks
It will be hard to score many points this week from the list of drivers in Group C. The drivers from this group will not have much of a chance to win the race this week. The best philosophy is to use one of the road-course ringers and hope for the best. Teams will not want to waste a start with Kyle Larson or Austin Dillon unless they have five or more starts left with these drivers.
Here are the two drivers I selected for Group C.
Boris Said (9)
Many fantasy teams really need Boris Said to qualify well and run up front. Most teams are running low on starts with Larson and Dillon, so they need a chance to use another driver. Said usually runs in the top 25 at Watkins Glen. If he can finish inside the top 20, most fantasy teams would be happy with his results.
Austin Dillon (5)
Dillon is on my roster this week because he should have a good opportunity to qualify up front and I currently have six allocations with him left on my team. If I had more allocations with Larson (I only have two), I would use him in the place of Dillon. The best strategy is to plan on using Said and using Larson or Dillon for qualifying points.
Other Good Choices: Kyle Larson and Justin Allgaier
Fantasy Live Picks
Fantasy Live Picks: Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, Marcos Ambrose, AJ Allmendinger, Boris Said
The advice for Fantasy Live is usually to select drivers who start in the back of the field and have a good chance to move to the front. But track position is too important at Watkins Glen to select many drivers at the back. Last year, Gordon, Earnhardt and Kahne started in the middle of the pack and finished outside the top 30.
Selecting the drivers with the best career results at Watkins Glen is the best way to choose your team in Fantasy Live this week. Busch, Ambrose, Keselowski, Edwards, Bowyer and Johnson have great stats at Watkins Glen. Any combination of these drivers will provide great results for your team Sunday.
Fox Fantasy Racing Picks
It is hard to score many points in Fox Fantasy Racing without selecting drivers from the back of the field. Fantasy teams will have to weigh the risks with the rewards of filling their team with drivers without track position. Selecting the best drivers for the race regardless of starting position is the best philosophy this week.
Here are my selections for Fox Fantasy Racing for the race at Watkins Glen:
Captain: Marcos Ambrose
Driver 2: Kyle Busch
Driver 3: Carl Edwards
Driver 4: Clint Bowyer
Driver 5: AJ Allmendinger