Road course races can be highly unpredictable. Track position is critical and no one wants to get caught by an ill-timed caution. The only problem is that until the final fuel window is closed, there are a number of things that can go wrong and it can impact anyone in the field.
Watkins Glen International is more of a wild card that Sonoma Raceway because of the speed achieved and the danger of putting even one wheel off line. In recent years, fantasy owners have seen massive pileups around the track that are akin to the 'Big One' crashes on restrictor-plate superspeedways.
Those two factors make this a wild card race in which players can afford to take a few risks on mid-pack drivers while resting the Big 3.
1. Kyle Busch
Busch represents the best bet for a Big 3 win at Watkins Glen because he enters the weekend with a seven-race streak of top-10s on road courses.
2. Denny Hamlin
Hamlin finished 10th in June's Toyota 350k, but before that he had a four-race, top-five streak to his credit on road courses.
3. Martin Truex Jr.
Truex's win at Sonoma this spring marked the first time in a decade that a driver has been able to go back-to-back on a road course and now he’s looking to match Tony Stewart’s record from 2004/2005 of three straight.
4. Clint Bowyer
His results have slipped a little lately, but Watkins Glen is a good opportunity for Bowyer to rebound. He enters the Go Bowling at the Glen with a three-race, top-five streak on road courses
5. Kurt Busch
Busch has been occasionally great on road courses with four top-fives in the last 11 races. He's rarely stumbled with a worst finish of 12th in that span.
6. Kevin Harvick
While no one can discount Harvick on any track at any time, Watkins Glen is not his best course. If you need to rest him for a week, this is a good time to do so.
7. Chase Elliott
Elliott has finished 13th in two previous attempts at Watkins Glen, but he could challenge for a top-10 if he gets track position late in the going.
8. AJ Allmendinger
Last year, Allmendinger finished 35th at Sonoma, but rebounded for a ninth at the Glen. During his career, this has been a much better track for him and he is worth risking a start.
9. Erik Jones
He is not the first driver who comes to mind on road courses yet, but Jones enters the Go Bowling at the Glen with back-to-back top-10s on this track type.
10. Brad Keselowski
Keselowski's results on road courses have been all over the board with a pair of top-fives, another top-10, and three results in the teens in his last six attempts.
11. Ryan Blaney
A power steering problem cost Blaney six laps at Sonoma this spring and he was not able to back up the pair of top-10s that he scored on road courses last year.
12. Aric Almirola
The rising tide of Stewart-Haas Racing helped Almirola scored his first career road course top-10 this spring at Sonoma.
13. Daniel Suarez
It's too soon to tell if Suarez's third-place finish in this race last year or his pair of mid-teens at Sonoma are more predictive of how he’ll run in the Go Bowling at the Glen.
14. Joey Logano
For a few years, Logano was one of the top values on road courses. His last three attempts have been outside the top 10, however, and players are justified to be a little nervous.
15. Alex Bowman
Like Almirola, Bowman has to be handicapped based on the strength of his Hendrick Motorsports crew and not his historic results. He finished ninth this spring at Sonoma.
16. Matt Kenseth
On tracks where Kenseth has a great record, he can be counted on to finish somewhere in the mid-teens. Before the end of the year, he will contend for a top-10.
17. Kyle Larson
Keep Larson in the garage this week and wait for Michigan to start him. His average finish on road courses during his career is a modest 18.1.
18. Chris Buescher
If a fantasy player is looking for a driver almost guaranteed to fly under the radar, Buescher has back-to-back top-15s on road courses plus another 19th in his last three starts.
19. Jimmie Johnson
Johnson's 11th-place finish at Sonoma could be encouraging if not for the fact that he has backed up a top-15 on that track with results outside the top 25 at the Glen in the last two years.
20. Michael McDowell
McDowell is a hidden gem in salary cap games on road courses with a worst finish of 21st and a best of 12th in his last four attempts.
21. Paul Menard
In three seasons before this, Menard had only one finish outside the top 20 compared to five results in the teens, so his 26th at Sonoma was a huge disappointment.
22. Ryan Newman
In the past three seasons, Newman has gotten progressively worse on road courses with his last two efforts landing in the mid-20s.
23. Jamie McMurray
McMurray is handicapped by the numbers this week and will probably struggle to finish in the 20s. Pay close attention in practice, however, because he had a worst result of 17th in his last two seasons on road courses and could surprise us.
24. William Byron
Hendrick Motorsports is beginning to reverse their fortune, but Byron has far too little experience on road courses to recommend him in his rookie season.
25. Austin Dillon
Dillon is another driver who has been consistently worse at the Glen than at Sonoma, so his 16th-place finish in the Toyota 350k is not predictive of how he'll run this week.
26. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Stenhouse could be heading in the right direction on road courses with a pair of top-20s in his last two attempts, but he also finished worse than 25th in his four previous starts.
27. Kasey Kahne
Kahne is a competent road racer and this team has three top-20s in their last four starts. There are a lot of good differentiators, however, so wait to make a final decision until practice.
28. Matt DiBenedetto
DiBenedetto surprised the Sonoma field with a 17th. Last year, he scored a top-25 in that same race before slipping to 28th at the Glen.
29. David Ragan
In his last three starts on road courses, Ragan has gotten progressively better with a 31st at Sonoma last year, a 27th at the Glen, and a 22nd in his latest attempt in the Toyota 350k.
30. Cole Whitt
Whitt's accident in June's Sonoma race kept him from being a hidden good value, but there is still the chance that he can be a good differentiator if he practices well.
31. Ty Dillon
In three previous starts on road courses, Dillon finished in the top half of the field once - but only barely with a 19th in last year's race at the Glen. He was 33rd at Sonoma this spring.
32. Bubba Wallace
Wallace got attention for all the wrong reasons last week at Pocono when he hit the Turn 1 wall hard. He finished 29th at Sonoma in his only Cup road start to date.
33. Parker Kligerman
Kligerman's 23rd-place finish at Sonoma in the Gaunt Bros. No. 96 made him one of the best values in salary cap games.
34. Landon Cassill
With Front Row Motorsports, Cassill earned three top-30s in four road course races. This team is not quite as seasoned, however, and attrition has been low in 2018.
35. Ross Chastain
Chastain has not yet made a road course start in the Cup series. Watch this entry for a late-race driver change and let them sit in the garage.
36. Spencer Gallagher
Gallagher earned his first career Xfinity victory this spring at Talladega and now he's ready to take some laps in a Cup car.
37. Josh Bilicki
This will be Bilicki's third start in the Cup series. He's finished 36th at Sonoma and New Hampshire and will probably end in that same range again this week.
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