Dan Beaver

Statistically Speaking

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Start or Park: Watkins Glen

Friday, August 3, 2018


Another enhanced (abbreviated) schedule makes setting a roster challenging. There is no new data to consider until drivers hit the track on Saturday, but one still needs to think in terms of driver values throughout the field.

Even when practice and qualification is in the books, one is not going to know precisely what will be faced during the weekend because NASCAR will not inspect the cars until Sunday morning. Last week, 13 cars failed post-qualification inspection including the entire front row. It did not take long for the fast cars to come to the front, but that can be much more difficult on a road course.

Level 1

Start: Kyle Busch
Kyle Busch is one of only two drivers in the field this week with a streak of three consecutive top-10s at the Glen. And If not for crash damage in 2014, he would most likely have a 12-race, top-10 streak to his credit. Given how he has run so far this year, the only thing that fantasy owners really care about is whether he can win. He has done that on two previous occasions; the most recent was in 2013.

Start: Martin Truex Jr.
It had been a decade since anyone posted back-to-back victories on road courses in the Cup series until Martin Truex Jr. scored his victory at Sonoma Raceway this spring. He now has an opportunity to grab three in a row for the first time since Tony Stewart did so in 2004/2005. One would like to think that his dominance this spring in California will correlate to another win, but last week’s struggle at Pocono Raceway proves that it is not as simple as bolting on the winning setup from earlier in the year. Still, Truex belongs on most rosters because of his strength this season and because most of the competition will have him activated; if he struggles, he will take everyone down with him.

Park: Kevin Harvick
It’s hard to wave a red flag over someone as dominant as Kevin Harvick. The Big 3 deserve the hype they are experiencing, but there are games in which one cannot use drivers limitlessly. If you need to sit Harvick for a race or two, this is the week to do so because he has not been overly impressive at Watkins Glen during his career. That hasn’t made a lot of difference on other tracks in 2018 – and it may not make a difference this week either – but strategy can play an important role on a road course. That makes the Go Bowling at the Glen a wild card.

Level 2

Start: Denny Hamlin
Denny Hamlin does not have the same lengthy record at the Glen as his teammate Busch, but he has been incredibly strong on the combined road courses. His victory in the 2016 Cheez-it 355k came on the heels of a second at Sonoma that year and back-to-back fourth-place finishes last season. Hamlin finished 10th in the Toyota 350k this June, but if he can get a little better track position this week, he should be back in contention for a top five.

Start: Daniel Suarez or Erik Jones
Normally, we would be cautious about Young Guns on road courses, but there has not been a lot of success among the mid-tier drivers and that makes the Gibbs’ guys stand out. Daniel Suarez and his teammate Erik Jones ran well in this race last year. In fact, the six Joe Gibbs and Furniture Row allied racers all finished in the top 10 and that says something about the strength of their road course program. Make the final decision based on practice speeds and hope these sophomores are able to stay out of trouble.

Park: Austin Dillon
Austin Dillon got off to a decent start at the Glen with a 16th-place finish in 2014. He could have gone either direction from there, but he went down and his last three starts have all ended outside the top 25 with a worst of 36th. He nearly cracked the top 15 again this spring at Sonoma. Some fantasy owners may be willing to risk starting him, but that track has been kinder to Dillon in the past than the Glen.

Level 3

Start: Matt Kenseth
Depending on his salary cap value, Matt Kenseth may be one of this week’s top options. Road courses are the consummate drivers’ track and that should allow him to get into the top 15 no matter how his car stacks up against the competition. Along with his former teammate Kyle Busch, Kenseth has a long streak of top-10s at the Glen. He’s finished that well in the past four races, including a second-place finish last year to Truex.

Start: AJ Allmendinger
It is unlikely that AJ Allmendinger will win. He might even struggle to get a top-five if he loses track position. But it seems highly likely that he is going to finish in the top 10 this week and unless the game you are playing has seriously jacked up his salary cap value, he should be a lock to outperform his cost. Allmendinger has scored six top-10s in his last seven races at Watkins Glen, including a victory in 2014 and fourth-place results in 2010 and 2016.

Previous Start or Parks

Toyota / Save Mart 350 (Sonoma) 
Gander 400 (Pocono 2) 
Foxwoods 301 (New Hampshire) 
Quaker State 400 (Kentucky) 
Coke Zero 400 (Daytona 2) 



Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 12 years with a little help from his >500,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.
Email :Dan Beaver



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