Fantasy NASCAR Analysis: (FREE) – Watkins Glen – GoBowling at the Glen

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GoBowling at the Glen – Watkins Glen

The top tier drivers are egregiously priced, again. Their salaries reflect 260 lap races. An $11,000 salary does not make sense for a 90 lap race. The last 8 years, the #1 score at Watkins Glen has averaged 65 fantasy points. Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex, and Kyle Busch cannot return value.

If you frequent my work, then you know that I have died on this hill before. At Sonoma, it was impossible that one elite driver could return value. Two elite hogs was as likely as an asteroid slamming into the Earth and ending life as we know it.

My calculations must have been off because it happened. Here is how it happened. Sonoma was the first ever extreme green road course race. The term lap turner doesn’t apply to road courses because the drivers are winding all over the course. This is so new that I do not have a word to describe it. It’s that rare. If there was one caution just after the middle of Stage 1 or Stage 2, then this doesn’t exist. We are not having this conversation. The stars aligned.

 

Sonoma 2018

The race goes green. No cautions in Stage 1. There is a caution in Stage 2, but it’s only 5 laps into the run. Every driver had recently visited pit road, there was no point in going back onto pit road. The rest of the race went green.

Let’s look at what happened, and what could have happened.

 

What happened:

Before the end of Stage 1, the leaders forfeited the lead and the stage points to pit. Other cars stayed out, but they had to pit between stages. At that point, the previous leaders (Truex and Harvick) cycled back to the front.

The same thing happened with the conclusion of Stage 2. Some drivers stayed out at the beginning of Stage 3 (banking on saving fuel during caution laps that didn’t happen), these drivers hit pit road early in the stage, and Truex and Harvick were back upfront.

The stage went completely green, so they stayed out front and hogged all of the hog points. That was the only possible path for both drivers to be in the optimal lineup. One caution, and this doesn’t happen.

Again, one, just one caution. If more drivers would have gambled with pit strategy, then two elite hogs doesn’t happen.

 

What could have happened:

If there was a caution half way through any stage, then the fantasy outcome changes. The leaders have to make a choice, pit or stay out. If they pit, then they’re not going to score enough hog points – game over.

If they stay out, then they have to make a choice: pit early or in between stages. Either way, the cars that pitted under that caution are going to stay out at the end of the stage. The leaders are going to get trapped in traffic, and there is no way that two elite hogs can score enough points to be in the optimal lineup.

With one caution, it’s possible for one elite driver to score 65 hog points. They won’t be a great point per dollar play, but they will backdoor into the optimal lineup because there just aren’t a lot of points available at Watkins Glen. Unless a lot of point differential plays come through, one expensive hog will likely squeeze into the optimal lineup.

 

Final Thoughts on Sonoma 2018

Stages have killed road racing. The strategy has been dumbed down. Teams have been reduced to relying on fake radio signals to win races. Since the beginning of stage racing, Harvick and Truex have won each road race, and it hasn’t even been close. They have embarrassed the field. Stage racing favors the cars that are front runners, and the front runners are Harvick, Truex, and Kyle Busch. The days of Brad Keselowski stretching fuel are over.

The pit stops are programmed into the race. This might as well be an intermediate track race.

 

Sonoma 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The extreme green race locked in Harvick and Truex. What happens if there is a caution at some point?

Let’s say Harvick scores around 65 fantasy points, and Truex only scores 55 points. Based on raw points, Harvick stays in the optimal and Truex is bumped out.

The extra money would likely add Aric Almirola to the lineup (chalky play based on starting position), and Matt DiBenedetto would upgrade to Alex Bowman.

That’s not a huge change, and it’s likely nonsense anyway. If there is a caution, then Erik Jones and Alex Bowman do not earn top 10s. They both hit the pits before the end of Stage 2 and fluked their way into top 10 finishes when the race went green (DiBenedetto benefited from the same strategy as well).

Harvick and Truex finishing one and two is not a surprise.

The SHR cars started near 20th. They’re not a surprise either. The cars are good, and with the limited amount of points available in a road course race, place differential points become a premium.

Denny Hamlin was chalk, but he should have scored more. He stayed out and won Stage #2. He didn’t pit in between stages, and without any cautions, that required Hamlin to make two green flag pit stops in the final stage.

 

Jones, Bowman, and Chris Buescher hit pit road before the end of stage 2. They got track position and only had to pit once when they race went green.

Before Jones gained an undeserved spots (10 spots for 20 fantasy points) via strategy, he was running 18th. That’s pretty bad for a JGR car, but that’s his floor. Even on a bad day, Jones is going to out race the 20th to 40th place cars, if a road race is void of cautions. An overlooked and written-off driver will likely win someone $50,000 this weekend.

Picking an elite hog or narrowing it down to two drivers isn’t a problem this week. Picking the obvious place differential drivers isn’t a problem this week. Guessing what drivers catch a break when the caution happens or doesn’t happen, well good luck with that.

 

Gameplan

Pick one elite driver or two if you think this is an extreme green road race. Pick the obvious place differential drivers. You might not need a lot of place differential points, but I would aim just north of 50 fantasy points. Then throw some darts.

 

Elite

Kevin Harvick 12,100

Kyle Busch 11,800

Martin Truex, Jr. 11,500

 

Place Differential and Finish

Aim for +50 points, the cheaper the better.

Denny Hamlin 10,300

Clint Bowyer 9,800

Kyle Larson 9,500

Kurt Busch 9,300

Joey Logano 9,100

Brad Keselowski 8,900

Jimmie Johnson 8,700

Aric Almirola 8,500

A.J. Allmendinger 8,300

Chase Elliott 8,100

Ryan Blaney 7,900

Jamie McMurray 7,700

Daniel Suarez   7,500

 

Darts

One or two will get lucky and finish with a top 15 and close to 10 place differential points.

Kasey Kahne 7,300

Paul Menard 7,100

Austin Dillon 7,000

Matt Kenseth 6,900

Ryan Newman 6,800

Erik Jones 6,700

William Byron 6,600

Alex Bowman 6,500

Parker Kligerman 6,300

Michael McDowell 6,100

Chris Buescher 5,900

Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. 5,700

 

Punt Darts

Punting may not be necessary, if you are only rostering one elite driver.

David Ragan 5,600

Ty Dillon 5,400

Cole Whitt 5,200

Matt DiBenedetto 5,100

Darrell Wallace, Jr. 5,000

Ross Chastain 4,900

Landon Cassill 4,800

Spencer Gallagher 4,700

B.J. McLeod 4,600

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