For the last time this season, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is headed for a road course, as drivers are set to compete in Sunday’s I Love New York 355 at The Glen.
NASCAR runs on the 2.45-mile short course at Watkins Glen International, rather than the full 3.4-mile configuration, though the New York track is one of the coolest tracks on the calendar. Dominated for years by Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon, the Glen now is in search of a new master. And, as is always the case with road races, predicting who will succeed can be difficult.
But that’s where we come in.
Whether you need help picking an A-List driver who has a shot at winning or an up-and-coming C-List racer who could help steal you some points, we’ve got you covered. Here are the drivers you should give seats to, and the ones you shouldn’t, for Sunday’s race at Watkins Glen:
Must pick: Kyle Busch
Cases could be made here for Kevin Harvick, who won a road race earlier this season at Sonoma Raceway, and Denny Hamlin, who always runs well on road courses. Still, with Stewart and Gordon out of the picture, the favorite has to be Kyle Busch.
In 12 races at Watkins Glen, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver has a series-high two wins and 10 finishes in the top 10. Busch, who’s coming off his first win of the season Sunday at Pocono Raceway, will be looking to return to victory lane as soon as possible. We like his chances to do it.
Stay away: Ryan Newman
If you’re looking for a B-List fill in this weekend, we suggest you don’t pick Newman.
The Richard Childress Racing driver hasn’t finished in the top 10 at Watkins Glen since 2006, and has led just 20 laps at the course in his career. He might finish in the top 15, but you there are better B-List options this week.
Sleeper pick: A.J. Allmendinger
Speaking of great B-List options, Allmendinger might be the best in the sport this week.
In eight races at the Glen, the former IndyCar driver has three top-fives and five top-10s, including a victory in 2014. Furthermore, Allmendinger has finished outside the top 20 only once in New York. Start him with confidence Sunday.
Value pick: Erik Jones
Honestly, few C-List drivers have us feeling confident this weekend.
Ultimately, though, Jones’ talent and performance this season make him the most logical choice here, with respect to Daniel Suarez. Toss the future JGR driver in your lineup on Sunday, and hope for the best.
Thumbnail photo via Matthew O’Haren/USA TODAY Sports Images