Fantasy Article

Rotoworld

Update: Watkins Glen

Dan Beaver
Sunday, August 6, 2017

There is an old adage in racing: “You don’t win anything for practice, but you can’t win without it.”

That might never be truer than on a road course, where drivers have to hit precise marks lap after lap after lap. This week, the need for practice was underscored by the new aerodynamic package that showed drivers just how difficult it can be to re-learn this course with new circumstances.

Veterans Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. spun during the race. Road specialist Danica Patrick also looped her car on Saturday while Boris Said—with more laps around twisty tracks than anyone in the field—ripped the nose off his car in Happy Hour.

Still, at its core, road courses are rhythm tracks. Seven drivers posted top-10 fastest laps in both practice sessions. Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. paced the first session with laps of 125.516 and 124.797 mph respectively. And if those names are familiar, it is because they’ve been topping the leaderboard every week in prelims.

In the second session, Brad Keselowski (125.880) and Kurt Busch (125.862) posted the fastest laps in final practice. With the exception of Truex, these leaders are generally considered to be among the best road course drivers in NASCAR.

Truex might not have the same reputation as the others, but he can hold his own with the leaders and if not for a last-lap incident in 2015, he would have five top-10s in his last six races. His other result in that span was a 13th. He qualified third.

There is a problem with these drivers being so strong and that is that there is very little opportunity to differentiate a fantasy roster. These drivers are among the most expensive in the game, so players are going to have to look deeper on the chart to find a good value.

Michael McDowell tends to be one of our go-to sleepers on road courses. He got his start on this type of track in sports cars and has consistently outperformed his equipment. On Saturday, he posted the 10th-best time in the first session and was ninth-best in Happy Hour. He qualified 14th and with the right strategy, could even challenge for the win.

Erik Jones was also notably fast in practice. He posted the fifth-fastest time in practice one and showed a lot of promise at Sonoma Raceway this June. Unfortunately, he has shown a little inconsistency in race trim and a propensity for getting into trouble. That makes him a risky proposition.  

Jones will lineup sixth on the grid, right next to fellow Rookie of the Year contender Daniel Suarez.

With a lap of 126.925, Kyle Busch won his third pole in the last five races; he was also awarded the pole by NASCAR’s rule book in a fourth race during that span of time, so he is accustomed to seeing clean track early in the going. Last week at Pocono, he became acquainted with Victory Lane again and that could trigger several more wins. After leading the field to green, he finished fifth at Kentucky Speedway in early July.

Kyle Larson was .372 second slower than Busch, but he posted the second fastest time in qualification. His record on road courses have been inconsistent, so he is almost certain to lose place-differential points.

Denny Hamlin and Clint Bowyer experienced brake problems in qualification that will force them to drop to the back of the pack after making an unapproved change. They both advanced to the final round and will be officially credited with the 11th- and 12th-place starting positions, but their place-differential will be based on their official gridding. 

Start

Driver

Qual
Speed

Practice 1
Rank

Final Practice
Rank

Avg.
Rank

           

3

Martin Truex Jr.

      125.763

2

3

2.7

1

Kyle Busch

      126.925

1

10

4.0

8

Brad Keselowski

      125.334

6

1

5.0

11

Denny Hamlin

      125.227

3

5

6.3

9

Jamie McMurray

      124.988

4

7

6.7

4

Chase Elliott

      125.584

8

8

6.7

2

Kyle Larson

      126.249

17

6

8.3

12

Clint Bowyer

      125.099

12

4

9.3

6

Erik Jones

      125.437

5

17

9.3

14

Michael McDowell

      124.876

10

9

11.0

18

Kurt Busch

      124.700

14

2

11.3

13

Joey Logano

      124.897

7

15

11.7

20

Kevin Harvick

      124.681

11

11

14.0

5

Daniel Suarez

      125.453

22

16

14.3

16

Ryan Blaney

      124.775

16

12

14.7

19

Kasey Kahne

      124.691

9

19

15.7

15

Matt Kenseth

      124.814

13

20

16.0

7

AJ Allmendinger

      125.368

23

18

16.0

17

Chris Buescher

      124.707

15

21

17.7

21

Paul Menard

      124.566

20

13

18.0

10

Jimmie Johnson

      124.026

18

26

18.0

22

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

      124.471

19

14

18.3

25

Danica Patrick

      123.943

21

23

23.0

24

Ty Dillon

      124.012

27

22

24.3

23

Ryan Newman

      124.336

25

27

25.0

30

Trevor Bayne

      122.995

24

24

26.0

27

Austin Dillon

      123.647

28

28

27.7

29

Aric Almirola

      123.260

30

25

28.0

28

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

      123.457

26

31

28.3

26

Cole Whitt

      123.943

31

29

28.7

31

David Ragan

      122.127

29

30

30.0

32

Landon Cassill

      121.628

32

32

32.0

33

Brett Moffitt

      120.395

 

35

34.0

34

Gary Klutt

      120.391

35

34

34.3

37

Matt DiBenedetto

      117.930

34

33

34.7

35

Boris Said

      119.130

33

36

34.7

36

Corey LaJoie

      118.749

36

 

36.0