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Fantasy NASCAR Sleepers and Busts: Cheez-It 355 at The Glen
By Eric McClung
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. 8 at 12:30 p.m. EDT, 4:30 p.m. EDT
Since 2009, Bowyer has finished 11th or better in five of the six races at Watkins Glen. Over the last three, his average running position has improved from 12th to seventh to a career-best sixth last season. Of those combined 272 laps, Bowyer has spent 93.4 percent of them running in the top 15. Bowyer won at Sonoma in 2012, one of five top-fives at that site in nine career starts.
Over the last three years, Truex has qualified and finished in the top 10 position at the Glen. As a member of MWR in 2013, Truex started and finished a career-best third. In his first season with Furniture Row, he finished a respectable 15th. Truex had recorded three top-15s inside the top 20 in four starts prior to placing 25th at Indy and 32nd at Pocono.
Allmendinger has made five starts at Watkins Glen since 2008, all resulting in finishes of 13th or better with three consecutive top-10s. Allmendinger also done a great job qualifying, earning a spot on the first two rows in his last three chances. The Dinger started on outside pole at Sonoma and led a race-high 35 laps but finished 37th after another car sent him into a retaining wall.
Competing in less than stellar equipment, Piquet is a total wild card this week. The Brazilian is competing in the Cup series for the first time after spending all of 2013 in the Nationwide Series and the two previous seasons in the Truck Series. Over the years, Piquet competed in five road course events in Nationwide, winning the 2012 event at Road America in addition to top-10s in each Watkins Glen event.
Gordon captured four checkered flags at The Glen from 1997-2001, but has only managed two top-10s over the last 12 seasons. Gordon was the runner-up at Sonoma and only finished outside of the top 10 in wine country four times in 22 career starts. However, Gordon -- the points leader following 14 of the last 15 races -- has a great chance of being overvalued this week.
One more top-five will give Earnhardt more than 10 in a season for the first time since 2004. At Watkins Glen, Earnhardt has only scored one top-15 at the site since 2006. Despite finishing a career-best third at Sonoma, it's a bit of a stretch for lighting to strike twice on road courses, venues where Earnhardt typically struggles.
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