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NASCAR Fantasy Cheat Sheet

Go Bowling at the Glen Cheat Sheet

by Dan Beaver
Updated On: July 31, 2019, 11:52 am ET

Because of the wide variety of strategies involved, road course racing can be inherently difficult to handicap. Still, last year we predicted the Go Bowling at Watkins Glen International to a more accurate degree than average by a fairly significant margin of 1.25 positions – landing our drivers within 6.46 of their actual results.

This year’s Sonoma race was better with the average handicap 5.58 away from the finish. While we would love to place the entire field within 3-5 spots from their actual finish, that is simply not possible when things like Chase Elliott’s blown engine or the mismanaged strategy of Joey Logano at Sonoma Raceway come into play.

At the Glen, there are also occasional 'Big One' accidents – especially exiting the carousel that lead onto a fast backstretch portion of the course to further complicate matters. Still, the handicaps below are based primarily on a driver’s recent record on NASCAR’s three road courses and should be an accurate overview of their potential.


1. Martin Truex Jr.
It's going to be hard to bet against Truex this week. He's won three of the last five road course races and finished second in another. Equally important, he's scored points in every stage at Watkins Glen so far.

2. Kyle Busch
Since the beginning of 2015 the only time Busch has finished outside the top 10 on a road course was last fall because of damage on the Charlotte Roval.

3. Kevin Harvick
Harvick swept the top 10 on road courses last year. He picked up where he left off this June with a sixth at Sonoma.

4. Denny Hamlin
One of the hottest drivers on the circuit for now, Hamlin should continue his streak of top-fives. In 2016/2017 he swept the top five on road courses and added another this June at Sonoma.

5. Ryan Blaney
Blaney's victory last fall on the Charlotte Roval was his first road course top-five, but he followed that up with a third this June in Sonoma.

6. Erik Jones
Look for this team to take a few risks this week to keep a pair of streaks alive for Jones. He enters with three straight top-three finishes this season and a perfect record of top-10s at the Glen.

7. Daniel Suarez
For the moment put all the other stats aside and consider only this: Suarez has been perfect in two starts at the Glen with a sweep of the top five.

8. Clint Bowyer
With three top-fives and two 11th-place finishes in his last five starts on road courses, Bowyer is a surprisingly good value. He just needs a little luck this week.

9. Kurt Busch
If you are looking for consistency, Busch typifies it. In his last 14 starts on road courses he earned 11 top-10s and a worst finish of 13th.

10. Chase Elliott
Elliott won this race last year and has a lot of confidence based on three road course results of sixth or better in 2018. His engine problem at Sonoma this June has set off a couple of months of bitter disappointment, however.

11. Alex Bowman
In four starts with Hendrick Motorsports on road courses, Bowman has never finished worse than 14th. He has a pair of top-10s to recommend him.

12. Joey Logano
Logano won the 2015 edition of this race and followed that with a second the next year. His last two attempts have been hugely disappointing, however, with a 24th in 2017 and a 37th last year.

13. Kyle Larson
With only three road course top-10s to his credit in 12 career starts it's hard to get overly excited about Larson. The good news is that two of these came in the past two seasons including a 10th at Sonoma this June.

14. William Byron
In his inaugural start at the Glen last year Byron finished eighth. Unfortunately that is his only top-10 on the twisty tracks. Watch him closely and make a game day decision based on his practice speeds.

15. Aric Almirola
Last year Almirola got off to a decent start on road courses with an eighth at Sonoma. He faded in the next two events on this track type. This year, he finished ninth in the Toyota 350k.

16. Jimmie Johnson
Johnson has a new crew chief this week with Cliff Daniels on the box. It could take a few races for them to speak the same language.

17. Chris Buescher
Buescher enters the weekend with a six-race streak of top-20s on road courses. Both his best (11th) and worst (20th) finish have come in the last two editions of this race.

18. Matt DiBenedetto
DiBenedetto's first road course top-10 came this June at Sonoma. It kicked off a string of solid runs that should be continued through the Go Bowling at the Glen.

19. Brad Keselowski
There will be much better places to start Keselowski before the playoffs begin with a couple of unrestricted, intermediate speedways on the horizon. His last top-10 on a road course came in 2017.

20. Ryan Newman
Newman finished seventh in the Toyota 350k. He has not been nearly as strong at Watkins Glen without a single top-10 in his last 12 starts there.

21. Daniel Hemric
Hemric might actually be a solid value this week. In two road course starts at the Cup level he finished 23rd on the Roval and 15th at Sonoma.

22. Michael McDowell
Based on his record last year on road courses McDowell was one of our top dark horse picks this June at Sonoma. He finished only 25th there and the enthusiasm for him has dulled somewhat.

23. David Ragan
Coming off a disappointing race at Pocono, this could be a good week for Ragan to rebound. Four of his last five road course races ended in the top 25 with a best of 16th last year at the Roval.

24. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Frustration is getting the better of Stenhouse. Road courses do not tolerate overdriving and the fast speeds at the Glen can have heavy consequences.

25. Parker Kligerman
Kligerman was a surprisingly good value on road courses last year with a 23rd at Sonoma and 24th at the Glen. He did not perform quite as well his June in California, however, and barely cracked the top 30.

26. Ty Dillon
Dillon can be a good value at times on road courses. In six starts on them he has one top-20 and two other top-25s. That means three of his efforts have landed outside the top 25, however.

27. Austin Dillon
Dillon has had a couple of strong runs in the past three seasons. They do not help his handicap at the Glen, however, because both of them came on the more technical track of Sonoma.

28. Paul Menard
We keep thinking Menard should be a solid value on road courses, but his 22nd-place finish in the Toyota 350k was the first time in two seasons that he cracked the top 25.

29. Bubba Wallace
With a career best of 25th on the road courses, it is difficult to handicap Wallace near the top of the order. The good news is that his best finish so far came in this race last year.

30. Ryan Preece
Preece qualified well at Sonoma in 20th. He lost a lap and nine place-differential points before the end of the Toyota 350k, however.

31. Matt Tifft
Tifft is going to be a difficult driver to handicap this week because he has only one road course start in the big leagues. He finished a lap off the pace in 28th in the Toyota 350k.

32. Ross Chastain
Chastain's best finish on a road course was 24th in last year's Roval race. He was only 32nd at the Glen, however.

33. Landon Cassill
In the past two seasons Cassill has finished either 29th or 31st in three road course starts. With a little luck he could improve because he had a 23rd at the Glen in 2016.

34. Corey LaJoie
LaJoie does not have a lot of road course experience at the Cup level with one start at the Glen in 2017 (33rd) and one at Sonoma this June (32nd).

35. Reed Sorenson
Sorenson made his first start on a road course in five seasons this June at Sonoma. He finished 35th and will be in that same range on Sunday.

36. Josh Bilicki
Both of the Rick Ware drivers this week have identical records of 36th-place finishes in their last two road course starts. That is about where they will finish this week as well.

37. Cody Ware
Ware has made two road course starts in the last two years. Both of those came at Sonoma and both ended in 36th-place results.

 

Drivers Most Accurately
Predicted This Year

 

Avg.
Difference

Times
Within 3

 

David Ragan

4.0

8

Landon Cassill

4.6

13

Ty Dillon

5.0

11

Matt Tifft

5.1

12

Martin Truex Jr./p>

5.3

9

Paul Menard

5.3

9

Kyle Busch

5.8

9

Ryan Newman

5.9

10

Denny Hamlin

6.0

14

Chris Buescher

6.3

8

 

Dan Beaver

Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 20 years with a little help from his >650,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.