After the long straightaways at Pocono last weekend, we now head to Watkins Glen, which is a much different type of track than we're used to. This is the first and only time at Watkins Glen this season. We only have five races left before the playoffs, so it's go time for a lot of these teams. They're not only trying to get a win, but also trying to collect playoff points with stage wins. With all the strategy that can be played at this track, this is one of the best chances for a team without a win to pick up their first win of the season.
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This weekend we have the Go Bowling at The Glen at Watkins Glen International. It's a 2.45-mile 11-turn road course and a 220.5-mile/90-lap race, and it’s a three-stage race; stage one and two are 20 laps each, while the final stage is 50 laps. Over the last 10 races here, we have seen an average of 5.2 cautions per race for an average of 14.4 laps. That’s taking away 7.2 of the possible 45 points for fastest laps on average. Teams can run 32-35 laps on one tank of fuel, so we will see teams take all different kinds of approaches to pitting this weekend. With the amount of turns and subsequent constant wear on the tires, fresh tires do make a big difference here, as well.
Drivers To Watch
Kurt Busch – Busch has been knocking on the door for a win for the last month, and this might be his best chance to pick it up. Over the last five races here, he has an average finish of 6.8, which is the best average among active drivers. He's never taken a victory lap here, but he's a very respectable road course racer. He's finished 11th or better in five straight at ‘The Glen’ and has positive place differential in each of those five races. Busch is averaging 44.5 DraftKings points over the last five races here, which is the most in that span. Over the last ten races this season, Kurt has a 95.7 driver rating with seven top ten finishes.
A.J. Allmendinger – While Allmendinger struggled at Sonoma, he's very good at Watkins Glen. He's finished 13th or better in eight of nine career races at the Glen. He has four top ten finishes in the last five races here, including a win in 2014. A.J. has a career driver rating of 97.1 here, which is the third best among active drivers. He also has the fourth best average running position among active drivers since 2005. He's 23rd in points and 158 points back from the cut line, this is the race they have circled, and this is the best chance they have to make the playoffs for the second time in his career.
Brad Keselowski – Like the two guys above him, this is an excellent chance for Keselowski to pick up his first win of the season. He'd led over 20 laps in three straight races here and was on the wrong side of fuel strategy in last season's race here. He has four career top three finishes in eight races. Keselowski has the second-best driver rating here since 2005, and the second-best driver rating over the last three races here. The only active driver to lead more laps here is Kyle Busch. Keselowski is always someone to consider at tracks that we have a lot of strategy that can be played, and Paul Wolfe continues to be one of the best crew chiefs in NASCAR at calling a race.
Drivers Running Well
Martin Truex Jr. – While Kevin Harvick has the highest driver rating over the last ten races this season, Truex has the best average finish. He has an average finish of 5.0 and has eight top five finishes in the last ten races. He's been hit or miss at the Glen in his career, but Truex is the defending race winner and he also won at Sonoma earlier this season. He has an average finish of 9.8 in the last five races here and is averaging 38.5 DraftKings points per race in that span.
Clint Bowyer – Bowyer has the fifth highest driver rating over the last ten races this season, and an average finish of 13.6 in that span. He's had some bad luck over the last few races, but this is an excellent spot for him to get back on track. He finished 5th in this race last season and has finished 11th or better in five of the last seven races here. With the way he's been running this season, and how good he's been at road courses in his career, he's a strong contender for another top five finish this weekend.
Erik Jones – I don't typically like rookies at Watkins Glen, and Erik Jones proved me wrong here last season. This will be his second race here, and he's running the K&N race here on Friday afternoon. Jones has quietly been one of the best over the last ten races this season and this team has a lot of momentum coming into this weekend. They have six top ten finishes in the last ten races, and he has an average finish of 11.2, which is the fourth best in that span. It will all depend on where Jones qualifies this weekend, but he's a really sneaky play if he qualifies outside of the top ten.