2019 Go Bowling at The Glen Fantasy Picks

The Cup Series is road racing at Watkins Glen this weekend, and Fantasy NASCAR expert Brian Polking is here to help you dominate all the popular season-long contests with his top picks for the Go Bowling at The Glen.

The summer stretch rolls on with a trip to Watkins Glen International this weekend for the second road course event of the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season. Sunday’s Go Bowling at The Glen is a 90-lap event around the 11-turn track, and for Fantasy NASCAR owners, the race will be both a challenge and a golden opportunity in the season-long contests.

In NASCAR Fantasy Live and the Driver Group Game, it is all about piling up stage points and maximizing the value of all of your driver allocations, especially when you decide to use the top options. At a road course like Watkins Glen, the importance of pit strategy and the ability for drivers to pit under green without losing a lap can create an imbalance between the drivers who earn those precious stage points and the drivers who finish near the front.

Yes, guys like Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch always seem to finish at the front at the road courses. In fact, these two finished first and second at Sonoma in June. However, the two combined for just six total stage points in that race. Meanwhile, there were just two drivers who earned points in both stages at Sonoma and finished in the Top 10, and there were four drivers who finished in the Top 10 who didn’t earn a single stage point.

There was a similar trend at Watkins Glen last year. Truex was the only driver who earned points in both stages, and eight of the drivers who earned points in Stage 1 ended up finishing outside the Top 10.

It’s great to get a strong finish out an elite fantasy option like Truex or Busch, but when that finish isn’t accompanied by a bunch of stage points, you aren’t maximizing the value of those drivers. I don’t like using these top guys at tracks where stage points can be tougher to predict. Obviously, there is risk involved whenever you avoid the safest options, but you can’t use them every week anyway. You might as well take advantage of some alternative options at a track like The Glen where stage point distribution is more volatile.

For Fantasy Live, I will be leaning heavily on the second-tier drivers. I am down to my last few starts from the elite options, but since the contest only runs through the end of the regular season, I don’t have to go completely of the grid with my picks. I can still stick to drivers from top teams with Top 5 upside without having to worry about running out of decent options for the final few races of the contest.

The same cannot be said for the Driver Group Game, and this is where the length of the contest comes into play. While I have no problem using guys like Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney, Erik Jones, Kurt Busch and Clint Bowyer for Fantasy Live, I have a much harder time using them in the DGG. There are a lot of bigger ovals still to come, and the drop-off between the drivers from the bigger teams and the rest of the Group B options at the intermediate ovals is typically much more significant than the drop-off at a road course.

For the Slingshot Fantasy Auto contest, I like to target drivers who have had a history of success at the road courses who also have a little place differential upside. The stage point conundrum makes studs starting up front a little riskier than usual, but as long as I roster drivers who will be at the front when it matters, I will be able to capitalize on the differential points that are so valuable in this scoring system.

Keep in mind that we are dealing with an impound race again this weekend, and tech inspection will be held after qualifying on Sunday morning. Any driver who fails will be sent to the back and scored from the rear. This will have obvious implications for all fantasy contests, especially Slingshot.

Make sure to check back Sunday for any updated picks following inspection, but in the meantime, take a look at my preliminary lineups for all the season-long Fantasy NASCAR contests for the Go Bowling at The Glen.

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NASCAR.com Fantasy Live

Denny Hamlin

I’ve been burning through starts from Hamlin during his recent hot streak, but even if I use him Sunday, I will still have one left for Darlington, a track where he has excelled. Hamlin has been committed to stage points, and he earned points in both stages at Sonoma on his way to a race-high 51 driver points. Starting sixth with a car that was fast in practice, Hamlin should be in the mix to be the top scorer yet again if he uses a similar strategy.

Chase Elliott

He had an engine issue at Sonoma earlier this year, but Elliott put together an incredible year at the road courses in 2018. He finished sixth or better in all three races, scoring the most points of any driver and winning at Watkins Glen. Elliott also won Stage 2 in his win at The Glen last year. After rocketing to the pole Saturday in qualifying, back-to-back wins at Watkins Glen seem like a real possibility.

William Byron

He made his Watkins Glen debut last year, finishing third in Stage 1 and eighth in the race. Byron continued to show some promise at the road courses at Sonoma in June when he scored the fifth-most points of any driver thanks to finishes of first and third in the two stages. Scheduled to start on the front row, Byron could feast on stage points again this weekend.

Kurt Busch

I have a couple of starts left from Busch, and I think it makes the most sense to capitalize on his road racing prowess while saving my final few starts from guys like Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski for another week. Busch has piled up eight Top 10s in the last 10 road course events, scoring the third-most points of any driver. In that same stretch, his 7.4 average finish is the second-best mark in the series. After qualifying in the Top 10, another solid road course showing should be on tap.

Clint Bowyer

Bowyer has always been an excellent road racer, but he’s been locked in since joining Stewart-Haas Racing. He has cracked the Top 5 in four of his six road course starts in the No. 14 machine, posting a 5.8 average finish in that stretch. Watkins Glen and Bristol are the only two tracks left on the regular season schedule where I expect Bowyer to be a legitimate Top 5 threat. I’m taking advantage this weekend.

Garage Driver – Ryan Blaney

It is so tempting to stick either Kyle Busch or Martin Truex Jr. in this spot and hope one of them ends up with points in both stages, but I am going to stick to my long-term strategy. Plus, Blaney has quietly become a solid road racer in his own right, and he has finished 12th or better in five of his last six starts, winning at The Roval last fall and finishing third at Sonoma earlier this year. I also have four starts left with him, and I have a hard time leaving starts on the table from a driver with Top 5 upside. He does start a little deeper in the field in 19th, so I’ll start him on the bench and see how things work out.

Fantasy Racing Cheat Sheet Driver Group Game

Martin Truex Jr. (A)

You can make a strong case for Kyle Busch, but the fact is that Truex has been the best driver at the road courses recently. His win at Sonoma earlier this year was his third victory and fourth Top 2 finish in the last five road races. Truex was also the only driver to earn points in both stages at Watkins Glen last year, finishing first in Stage 1 and fifth in Stage 2 on his way to a runner-up finish in the race. After qualifying fourth, he looks like the man to beat again this weekend.

William Byron (B)

As I said in the introduction, I just don’t think it is smart to use the elite Group B options this weekend, but Byron isn’t a bad alternative. Not only he shown some promise at the road courses, but I love his commitment to earning stage points. He finished third in Stage 1 and eighth in the race in his Watkins Glen debut last year, and back at Sonoma in June, he scored the fifth-most points of any driver thanks to finishes of first and third in the two stages. Starting on the front row, he is perfectly positioned to go after stage points once again.

Alex Bowman (B)

He’s shown some upside at the 1.5-mile tracks himself, but with five starts left from Bowman, I don’t mind using him this weekend. In four road course starts for Hendrick Motorsports, he has a pair of Top 10s and hasn’t finished outside the Top 15. Bowman earned points in Stage 1 at Sonoma in June, and he was heading for a Top 10 finish in that race before he lost power steering in the closing laps and slid to 14th. I’d like to see him start a little better than 17th, but looking at his practice times, I think he will be able to get towards the front Sunday.

Matt DiBenedetto (C)

Not only has he been challenging for Top 15s on a routine basis in recent weeks, but DiBenedetto showed some serious muscle in the first road course race of the year. He finished fourth at Sonoma back in June, posting the fourth-best driver rating and fourth-best average running position in that race. He starts back in 20th Sunday, but he posted Top 10 speeds in practice Friday. I think he will at least challenge for a Top 15, which is more than you normally expect from your Group C guy.

Fantasy Racing Online Slingshot Fantasy Auto

Kevin Harvick ($12,400)

I thought long and hard about going with Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch at the top of my lineup and hoping for stage points and a win out of one of them, but I decided to lean towards solid finishes and place differential points. Harvick starts 15th, but he has eight Top 10s in the last 10 road course races, including a sixth-place run at Sonoma earlier this year.

Joey Logano ($11,600)

Logano has been in a little slump at the road courses, but he also won at Watkins Glen in 2015 and finished second here the next year. More importantly, he starts back in 21st. With the importance of place differential points in this contest, it is hard to pass on a driver who typically boasts a Top 10 floor and Top 5 upside.

Ryan Blaney ($10,700)

He didn’t have a great lap in qualifying, but while he will start 19th, Blaney showed Top 5 speed in practice. He has also finished 12th or better in five of his last six road course starts, finishing first at The Roval and third at Sonoma in his two most recent outings. I expect him to pile up some differential points Sunday.

Matt DiBenedetto ($7,800)

DiBenedetto qualified in 20th Saturday, but he looked more like a Top 10 car based on practice speeds earlier in the day. He also had an impressive fourth-place run at Sonoma. He should be able to gain some spots and deliver a Top 15 on Sunday.

Daniel Hemric ($7,200)

I considered Austin Dillon for the final spot, but while he starts five spots deeper than Hemric, I just feel that Hemric is the better driver and can make up the difference with a solid finish. After all, he was able to crack the Top 15 at Sonoma back in June, and Dillon hasn’t had a single Top 15 in his last 10 road course starts.

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