Sunday marks the return of NASCAR after a three-week break. The Go Bowling At The Glen from Watkins Glen, New York will be the fifth of seven road course races of the season. Drivers will navigate the twists and turns of this 2.45-mile track for 90 laps. Once again the field was set by the starting algorithm, which awarded Brad Keselowski the pole. We are four races away from the start of the playoffs, so expect some hard driving and fast action as drivers fight to get into the postseason.
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Here are some of my favorite plays from this week’s contests. Scoring in these contests is based on finishing positions inside the Top 20 with 20 points awarded to first place and one less point thereafter. An additional 0.1 points are tacked on for each lap led. Below are some picks to help you get started in your MKF contests.
More Or Less 3/4
Chase Elliott More Than 19.5 Fantasy Points
Over the last couple of seasons, Chase Elliott has emerged as a road course ringer. It’s an amazing feat that not many “traditional,” track drivers have accomplished. He had four straight road course wins heading into the 2021 season. It ended with a spin at the Daytona Road course in February. He’d bounce back though and go on to win two out of the next three road races. His second-place finish in Sonoma represented his only finish outside of victory lane.
Elliott will be starting a little farther back than he’s been used to in the past. He’ll roll off the grid from the 11th position due to his 18th-place showing in New Hampshire before the break. That said, if anyone can move through the field quickly, he can. Also, he’s proven that he can absolutely own this track when given the chance. When he took home the checkered flag in 2019, he led 60 of the 80 possible laps. The year before, he led 52 laps. You stand a better than average chance for him to cash this prop given Elliott’s ability to be the king of the road…races.
Kyle Busch Less Than 17.5 Fantasy Points
On the surface, it may be tempting to lock in Kyle Busch on the over here. He did log a third-place finish at Road America a few weeks ago. At Sonoma, he crossed the finish line in fifth place. He even finished 10th at the rain-shortened COTA race. Even outside of the road courses, Busch has been consistently one of the top cars in the 2021 season. So far, he’s placed inside the Top 10 in 14 races, including wins in Kansas and at Pocono. All of that sounds like reason enough to click that “more,” button. Just hold that thought.
Over the course of his career, Busch has done well at Watkins Glen. In his 15 career starts in the Cup series here, he only finished outside the Top 10 on three occasions. In fact, he’s even turned in six Top 5 performances. That said, in the last six races, he’s only finished with enough points to cash this prop twice. On top of that, in all but one of those races he enjoyed a starting position inside the Top 10. This week, he will roll off deep inside the field from the 20th position. A lot of danger lurks back in the middle of the pack. He would need to put together a masterful performance to finish inside the Top3 on Sunday. This track will make that tough.
Joey Logano (+0.5) More Fantasy Points Than Denny Hamlin
It’s been a rough three-year stretch for Joey Logano in Upstate New York. Since winning the 2015 race and coming in second the following season, his best finish at Watkins Glen was his 23rd-place outing in 2019. He was the victim of a pit call that backfired and a couple of dust-ups that cost him a solid finish. That said, Logano has enjoyed road courses this season. So much so that three of the four road races have produced a Top 5 finish for the Pennzoil Ford Mustang. This week he will start on the outside pole, the best starting position in his career at this track. He’s a contender for the checkered flag and has lap-leading potential, especially early in the race. Those points alone should give him the edge over his prop competitor. So far, he’s outdueled Hamlin head to head on every road course this season except at Road America.
Unfortunately for Denny Hamlin, he’s cooled off from the hot streak he was on to start the season. Even still, he sits on top of the Cup Series points total. He built that base racking up eight Top 5 finishes in nine races to start the season. Since the All-Star race though, Hamlin has only finished in that range twice in six races. On road courses this year, Hamlin has done well. He finished inside the Top 10 in all but the COTA race in May. He has fared well at this track too over the last four seasons with three Top 5 finishes including a victory in 2016. That said, he rolls off the grid four spots behind this prop partner here. With Logano besting Hamlin on road courses this season, it will be difficult for Hamlin to make up the ground to win this bet.
Christopher Bell More Fantasy Points Than William Byron (+1.5)
Between these two drivers, there is very little Cup Series history at Watkins Glen. Of the two, William Byron has the most experience here with the major circuit. His first attempt on this track in a Cup car yielded an eighth-place finish after a 16th-place start. His second outing wasn’t as kind seeing him unable to capitalize on a second-place starting position. He crossed the finish line in 21st place in that 2019 race. All that aside, his road course record this season has been more misses than hits. Outside his 11th place finish at COTA, he’s failed to cross the finish line inside the Top 30 in the other three courses this season.
On the other hand, Christopher Bell has tasted victory lane this season and did so on a road course. At the non-Superspeedway Daytona Sunday, Bell piloted his car into the top spot and took home the checkered flag. While he struggled through the next few road course attempts, he rebounded nicely to finish second at Road America. Bell will start from the seventh position on Sunday, eight positions higher than his prop partner. He’s playing with house money at this point and can afford to be more aggressive this weekend in hopes of picking up a second road course win this season.