Fantasy NASCAR Race Preview: Cheez-It 355 at The Glen

by Eric McClung on August 7, 2013 @ 16:20:00 PDT


Watkins Glen International is the second and final road-course track on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule. The first, Sonoma Raceway, is a more technical track and requires more finesse to get around. The straightaways at The Glen allow for more speed and passing zones. While success at one road course doesn't automatically mean success at the other, reviewing the results from Sonoma is certainly useful.

Practice session: Friday, Aug. 9, at 12 p.m. EDT; 4 p.m. EDT
Qualifying: Saturday, Aug. 10, at 11:40 a.m. EDT
Race: Sunday, Aug. 11, at 1 p.m. EDT
Location: Watkins Glen, N.Y.
Shape: Road course
Length: 2.45 miles
Laps: 90
Turns: 11

Drivers to keep an eye on

Clint Bowyer | No. 15 PEAK/Duck Dynasty Toyota | Michael Waltrip Racing

NASCAR driver Juan Pablo Montoya
JPM: still a good pick at The Glen

Bowyer has seen big improvements in his performance at Watkins Glen each of the last two years. In 2011 he set a then-career-best average running position of 12th and finished 11th. Bowyer bested that mark last year by running seventh and finishing inside the top five for the first time. He just missed spending all 90 laps in the top 15 by two circuits.

Bowyer owns three straight top-fives at Sonoma, including last year's win, to cap his road-course resume.

Carl Edwards | No. 99 Kelloggs/Cheez-It Chevrolet | Roush Fenway Racing

Edwards is a solid road-course driver and matched a career-best finish of third at Sonoma earlier this season.

At The Glen he finished inside the top 10 each season from 2006 through 2010. Last year Edwards ran 10th and recorded 86.7 percent of his laps in the top 15. He continues to qualify well this season and has put together three consecutive finishes inside the top 15.

Kyle Busch | No. 18 M&M's Toyota | Joe Gibbs Racing

Over the last seven years Busch owns an average start of 5.6 and an average finish of 5.6 at Watkins Glen. In the last five races he's held an average running position of third or better four times. Busch also led the most laps each of the last two years despite failing to secure a victory.

Rowdy hasn't fared as well at Sonoma but remains among the very best selections at The Glen.

Brad Keselowski | No. 2 Miller Lite Ford | Penske Championship Racing

Keselowski has two finishes inside the top 10 over the last three races this season but desperately needs a victory for Chase purposes.

He's finished as the runner-up each of the last two years at The Glen and led 37 laps last year. Keselowski finished 21st at Sonoma back in June would have done much better if not for stalling out while trying to leave the pits after the first pit stop of the day.

Martin Truex Jr. | No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota | Michael Waltrip Racing

Earlier this season Truex won at Sonoma, and he has been a solid driver at Watkins Glen with five top-15s over the last six years. On three occasions he spent more than 96 percent of the laps running in the top 15.

The only time Truex has finished worse than 16th over the last seven was at Daytona International Raceway because of a crash.

Marcos Ambrose | No. 9 Stanley/CTC Jumpstart Ford | Richard Petty Motorsports

Ambrose is sure to be started in every format known to man this week. In five career starts at The Glen he's finished on the podium each time and has won two in a row. Ambrose has also been sharp at Sonoma with five finishes inside the top 10.

The former V8 Supercars Australia champ is still searching for his first top-five of the season but has a great chance to make it so this week.

Juan Pablo Montoya | No. 42 Target Chevrolet | Chip Ganassi Racing

After starting on the pole for last year's race at The Glen, Montoya was running in the sixth position on lap 32 and suffered a mechanical failure. That ended a streak of four consecutive finishes of seventh or better for JPM at Watkins Glen, highlighted by a victory in the 2010 race.

Montoya suffered more bad luck at Sonoma in June by running out of gas while running second late in the race.

A.J. Allmendinger | No. 47 Scott Products Toyota | JTG Daugherty Racing

Allmendinger did not compete at Watkins Glen last year but has finished 13th or better in all four career starts. In his last two appearances he qualified fourth and second, respectively.

Despite similar success at Sonoma the Dinger was did not get to suit up in June. Regardless, Allmendinger is the bottom-tier driver of choice this week.

Temper your expectations

Matt Kenseth | No. 20 Husky Tools Toyota | Joe Gibbs Racing

Kenseth is a vanilla road-course driver and matched a career-best finish of eighth at The Glen a year ago. Prior to that result he had finished outside the top 10 in seven straight.

Kenseth is an elite driver but he has a lot of better matchups to select from.

Jeff Gordon | No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet | Hendrick Motorsports

Gordon back in June did finish second at Sonoma, a track where he excels and has compiled eight consecutive finishes inside the top 10.

Once upon a time Gordon was also an automatic choice for The Glen, having won four times from 1997 through 2001. However, the next 11 races there would yield a total of only two top-10s for Gordon.

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About Eric McClung

Eric McClung has been profiled by the FSWA for covering the fantasy sports spectrum and is a three-time award finalist. Over the years, he's made several appearances in print and on radio. McClung began contributing to KFFL in 2008 and currently serves as one of KFFL's featured fantasy NASCAR experts. He's also captured the fantasy football championship in the KFFL staff league twice.

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