Where There's Smoke, There's Road Racing Fire: Watkins Glen Preview

RT WhiteContributor IAugust 7, 2008

For all you fantasy players out there, this is my first article geared towards you.  Oh and did I mention, I am one of you?  Anyway, I digress.  This week, the NASCAR Sprint Cup pulls into Watkins Glen, NY.  It is the second and final road course of the season.  I personally wish there was one or two more road courses on the circuit, but that's just me.  I could handle a dirt track event or two as well. Nothing like a little mud on your helmet visor!  So, back to the picks, who's going to come out top dog on Sunday? 

It is simple really.  Who won this race one year ago?  Tony Stewart.  Since 1999, in nine career starts at the track, Tony has finished outside the top ten twice, winning the race four times; in 2007, 2005, 2004, 2002, finishing second in 2006.  Oh and in 02 and 05, he went on to win the series.  Now I am not saying this will happen this year, but you can never rule out the #20 Home Depot team.  During this red hot stretch, the only other driver to win multiple times is Jeff Gordon, with two.  If you're looking for the front runner, who most in your league will have, it's Stewart. 

If you are looking for a dark horse, you could look at Jamie McMurray.  If he stays out of trouble and no one runs into him in turn 11 (Harvick) he is a decent road racer.  If the McMurray pick is too out there for you, I have a few other thoughts.  Kyle Busch seems to have broken through on the cup side, with his win at Infinion earlier this year.  But I don't know that I would use him at Watkins Glen.  I guess it depends how your league is set up, if you only have a limited number of uses per driver, save Kyle.  Last week they had a good run going at Pocono and basically lack of focus cost him a good finish and ended up a lap down.  After the race the team said they were 'testing.'  Now I know this is the last road course and he won on the only other track on the circuit, so what could they be 'testing' for again this week, but I look for the 18 team to be in a gambling mood on Sunday, and it could cost you some big points.  Bottom line, save Kyle for the chase when they are going full bore for the championship.  

Drivers not to over look Sunday are Kurt Busch, Kasey Kahne, and Jimmie Johnson.  Jimmie's road racing skills have gone way up over the last few years and he is a legitimate threat to win.  Kurt has always seemed to run well at the Glen, so maybe dark horse is not the best description.  If you think of how his season has gone so far, this could be a nice turning point for that Miller Lite crew.  Kasey has been taking lessons from the legendary road racer Boris Said, and it obviously has paid off.  Just look at what he was able to do at Infinion. 

Plus don't count out any of the 'road course ringers.'  Seems like every year one of them ends up in the top ten and the others have trouble.  But with pit strategy playing such a key roll in road racing, it is definitely possible for one of the 'ringers' to gamble, get track position, and the next thing you know, they are raising the trophy.  My pick would be Ron Fellows in the 01 DEI Chevy. Coming off his soggy win in Montreal, he has all the momentum and confidence he needs to steal a win from the regulars. Good luck with your picks!  See you in victory lane!