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ADAM ANSELL'S TOP 25 FOR WATKINS GLEN
1. Kyle Busch: At this point in the 2008 campaign, when Busch tied Sam Ard's single-season record of 10 wins, he had recorded six of them while running a full slate of races. So far this season, he's won nine of 17 starts running a part-time slate. With 14 races left in 2010, the question isn't if Busch will break the record, it's when and by how much. Busch has just three Nationwide Series starts at The Glen, with two Top Fives to show for it. He's started seventh and finished second in each of his past two starts at the site, leading 12 and 15 laps each time. Since the inception of Loop Data in 2005, Busch ranks fifth in Driver Rating (100.9) and 13th in Average Running Position (15.5). He's third with 27 Laps Led and 18 Fastest Laps Run. Some drivers may have a better pedigree at Watkins Glen, but winning nine of 17 starts in a season gives you the benefit of the doubt.
2. Marcos Ambrose: Ambrose will make his first Nationwide start of 2010. He won the 2008 and 2009 races at Watkins Glen. In his 2009 domination of the event, Ambrose started second and recorded a 144.5 DR, 4.0 ARP and led 26 laps. But he made a powerful enemy in the process; he passed Kyle Busch late in the race with a maneuver called the "dive bomb", a move Busch referred to as "being cheap-shotted". In the wake of the Carl Edwards-Brad Keselowski rivalry, it'll be interesting to see how this one plays out. With only one more scheduled start (Circuit Gilles Villeneuve) this season, Ambrose is the best Elimination format play of the week. He ranks second in DR (117.9) and third in ARP (8.0).
3. Kevin Harvick: To the delight of Fantasy owners, Harvick competed in two of the past three "stand-alone" events. In six starts at Watkins Glen, Harvick has one win (2007), five Top Fives, six Top 10s and one pole (2009). He's never started worse than 11th nor finished worse than seventh. He's led at least 12 laps in three of the past four events at Watkins Glen. Harvick leads all competitors with a DR of 121.8 and ARP of 6.8. With the Chase fast approaching in the Sprint Cup Series and several "stand-alone" races still on the Nationwide Series schedule, Harvick's future availability is murky at best. Start him in all formats while you still can.
4. Carl Edwards: He's quietly become an excellent road-course racer. Edwards won the first of three road-course events on the schedule at Road America, recording a perfect 150.0 DR with an ARP of 2.7 and 35 Laps Led. In 13 overall Nationwide Series road-course starts, he has two wins (Circuit Gilles Villeneuve), six Top Fives and eight Top 10s. He ranks 14th in DR (86.1) and 12th in ARP (14.7). In five starts at Watkins Glen, Edwards has just one Top Five, but in his third-place finish a year ago, he posted a DR of 123.7 and an ARP of 5.4. Ignore the overall Loop Data figures and look to what Edwards has done lately. He's destined for a Top Five this weekend, at the very least.
5. Brad Keselowski: The Nationwide Series points leader got back into the Top Five last week at Iowa Speedway with a fourth-place finish. Prior to that, he had finished three consecutive races outside the Top Five (Chicagoland Speedway, Gateway International Raceway, O'Reilly Raceway Park). In two starts at Watkins Glen, Keselowski has finished sixth and ninth. He ranks sixth in DR (100.3) and fifth in ARP (11.6). Keselowski is 231-points ahead of Edwards in the standings. Both drivers have kept things civilized since being put on probation by NASCAR, which is good news for Fantasy owners. As always, Keselowski is a must-start in Tiered/Grouping formats.
6. Ron Fellows: In nine starts at Watkins Glen, the Toronto native has three wins (1998, '00, '01), five Top Fives and six Top 10s. He's tied for the Series lead with two poles at the site. From 1998-2001, Fellows led at least 36 laps in all four events. The road-course ringer finished second in his only other Series start this season at Road America, running all 50 laps in the Top 15. The Canadian recorded his first Top Five at the site since 2001 last season. He ranks 22nd in DR (74.8) and 25th in ARP (22.2). Since Loop Data only dates as far back as 2005 and Fellows' wins came before that, don't put too much stock in the stats. He's an elite Elimination format start.
7. Ryan Newman: Since winning the 2005 event, Newman has just one other Top 10 (ninth in 2007) at the site. He has no laps led in the past three starts at Watkins Glen and two DNFs since 2006. He ranks eighth in DR (97.9) and 14th in ARP (16.0). But, it's not all bad. His Average Start at the site is an impressive 6.6. He's done very well in limited Nationwide Series action this season, with two Top Fives and three Top 10s in four starts. Newman is the ultimate high-risk, high-reward play this week and has too much upside to kick to the curb over a few poor outings.
8. Joey Logano: Logano returns this week to Watkins Glen, a site where he's been up and down. He followed up his seventh-place performance in 2008 with a 33rd-place DNF last season. He ranks 16th in DR (80.1) and 21st in ARP (17.8). Logano didn't enter the first road-course event at Road America earlier this season, so it's tough to gauge how he'll respond this week. In the eight starts prior to the three "stand-alone" events, Logano recorded one win (Kentucky Speedway), seven Top Fives and eight Top 10s with an Average Finish of 2.8. Based on that track record, don't bet against him.
9. Justin Allgaier: Although he didn't get the Top Five he deserved a year ago at Iowa, Allgaier managed to finish eighth last week, collecting his third Top 10 in his last four Series starts. In his only start at Watkins Glen, Allgaier started 27th and finished 17th. He ranks 23rd in DR (74.1) and in ARP (20.4). Allgaier managed to get as high as third in the Nationwide Series standings thanks to the "stand-alone" part of the schedule, but was passed by Busch at the conclusion of the Iowa event. The good news is he has a stranglehold on the fourth spot in the standings, up 213-points on fifth-place and will continue to improve as gets acclimated to road-courses.
10. Trevor Bayne: Bayne has zero starts at Watkins Glen and just one road-course start in his young career; a 10th-place finish at Road America earlier this season. But his recent hot streak over the past three Series events cannot be overlooked. Bayne has won three straight poles and posted three straight Top Fives during the second "stand-alone" portion of the schedule. He's surging his way up the standings and currently sits eighth overall, 123-points behind Steve Wallace.
11. Paul Menard: One Top Five and two Top 10s in four starts at the site. 95.2 DR.
12. Boris Said: One Top Five, two Top 10s and a pole (1998) in seven starts at the site. 78.0 DR.
13. Steve Wallace: Finished ninth at Road America earlier this season. 59.9 DR.
14. Brian Scott: Finished 13th in his only other career road-course start at Road America earlier this season. DR N/A.
15. Jacques Villeneuve: Finished fourth in the 2009 Circuit Gilles Villeneuve road-course event at Montreal. DR N/A.
16. Jason Leffler: 63.7 DR.
17. J.R. Fitzpatrick: 77.2.
18. Brendan Gaughan: 55.6.
19. Jason Keller: 63.3.
20. Joe Nemechek: 78.8.
21. Kenny Wallace
22. Kevin Hamlin
23. Michael Annett
24. Tayler Malsam
25. Mike Wallace
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