This article is part of our NASCAR DFS series.
Go Bowling at the Glen
Location: Watkins Glen, N.Y.
Course: Watkins Glen International
Format: 2.45-mile road course
Aric Almirola scored a surprise win in a shortened race at New Hampshire before the two-week break, adding even more intrigue to the already tight battle for the final 2021 NASCAR Cup Series championship playoff positions. Kurt Busch won the week before that, and those victories make it a total of 13 different winners so far this season. That leaves just three playoff spots available for nonwinners, which include Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin. The cut-line battle heading into this weekend is between Richard Childress Racing teammates Tyler Reddick and Austin Dillon, which is only going to heat up even further as the last four regular-season races get underway this week at Watkins Glen International. Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano will lead the field to green Sunday with Team Penske teammate Ryan Blaney in third making it a 1-2-3 sweep of Penske machines in the top starting positions. This will be the first of back-to-back road-course visits as the regular season heads toward its conclusion.
Key Stats at Watkins Glen International
- Number of races: 37
- Winners from pole: 10
- Winners from top-5 starters: 24
- Winners from top-10 starters: 28
- Winners from 21st or lower starters: 0
- Fastest race: 104.132 mph
Previous Watkins Glen Winners
2019 - Chase Elliott
2018 - Chase Elliott
2017 - Martin Truex Jr.
2016 - Denny Hamlin
2015 - Joey Logano
2014 - AJ Allmendinger
2013 - Kyle Busch
2012 - Marcos Ambrose
2011 - Marcos Ambrose
2010 - Juan Pablo Montoya
Another trip to a road course, what will be the fifth this season, will bring the usual suspects to the fore of fantasy managers' minds. Christopher Bell, Chase Elliot, and Kyle Larson have all won on road courses this season. Track position is exceptionally important on these circuits, which explains why this race has only been won twice in the last 20 visits by a driver starting outside of the top 15. However, fantasy players may not want to put too much emphasis on that statistic this week with the lack of on-track qualifying. Watkins Glen is a circuit where passes can be made. The key to success when not starting at the front is keeping out of trouble. Early damage can ruin the remainder of the day, but people should expect fast cars starting deeper in the field to move forward quickly. The best way to move forward is by out-braking opponents into the Glen's multiple passing areas, but pit strategy could come into play as the race wears on, helping drivers get out of traffic or gain track position for restarts.
DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS (Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)
DraftKings Tier 1 Values
DraftKings Tier 2 Values
DraftKings Tier 3 Values
DraftKings Long-Shot Values
Elliott (DK $10,600, FD $14,500) is at the top of his game on road courses. He has two wins on these types of circuits already this season and won the last two Watkins Glen races. He will start 11th on Sunday. Denny Hamlin (DK $9,600, FD $12,000) is safe in the playoffs with a significant points haul, but he still wants to score some wins before the playoffs begin. He will start this race sixth and won at the Glen in 2016. Bell's (DK $8,800, FD $11,200) 2021 win came on the road course at Daytona. He went quiet for a while, but has come roaring back to life with two runner-up finishes in the last three races, including Road America. Watkins Glen has traditionally been a good venue for Daniel Suarez (DK $7,500, FD $7,500). He has two top-five finishes at the track from three starts, and his 12th-place at Sonoma is his best road course finish this season. Erik Jones (DK $7,000, FD $5,500) will get an extra taste of Watkins Glen as he makes his first Xfinity start since 2019 Saturday. He has three top-10s from three Cup Series starts at the track, including a fourth-place finish in 2019. Cole Custer (DK $6,500, FD $6,500) has a best road-course result this season of 13th. That was at Daytona in February, but he also finished 17th at Road America just three races ago. He will start Sunday's race 19th. Higher-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)
Kyle Busch (DK $10,900, FD $12,500) should be exciting to watch in the early laps on Sunday. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver has two prior wins at the Glen but will start deep in the field in 20th position. Fantasy players' biggest risk in choosing him is the chance of contact as he scythes his way through the field in the opening laps. Joey Logano (DK $9,600, FD $11,500) has no such concern. He starts on the front row, surrounded by teammates, and won this race in 2015. Reddick (DK $8,000, FD $8,800) was thrust into a playoff battle with his teammate thanks to Almirola's victory at New Hampshire. The Richard Childress Racing driver will start 13th in his first series race at the track and has a best finish of fifth from two Xfinity starts there. Matt DiBenedetto (DK $7,600, FD $8,300) finds himself racing for his Cup future yet again. He hasn't finished worse than 11th in the last three races and finished sixth in this race in 2019. A road-course visit is a good time for fantasy players to consider Michael McDowell (DK $7,200, FD $7,300), too. He doesn't have any top-10s at Watkins Glen, but he finished 20th or better in his last five starts there and will start 25th Sunday. Bubba Wallace (DK $6,600, FD $4,000) is also worth fantasy consideration this week. His 14th-place finish at Sonoma shows he has the potential to run well on these circuits, and his 23XI Racing team Toyota may be the best equipment he has ever had at the circuit.