FOX fantasy picks: Road raging at Watkins Glen International
For the second and final time of the season, it is time to go road-course racing this weekend. The 2.45-mile road course at Watkins Glen has been host to some of the most exciting and dramatic races over the past few seasons, and Sunday's Cheez-It 355 should be no different.
With time clicking away before the 16-driver Chase field is set, there are several drivers looking for that first win of the season and a probable Chase berth.
Just like each week, these are simply suggestions, so pick your team wisely and best of luck. If you haven't done so yet, be sure to sign up for FOX Fantasy Auto Racing, create your team and start playing today!
Captain: Marcos Ambrose
Watkins Glen stats: 2 wins; 5 top 5s; 5 top 10s; Average finish: 6.8
It's now or never for Marcos Ambrose. Fresh off Saturday's win in the Nationwide Series race at Watkins Glen International, the former Australian V8 Supercar driver heads into Sunday's race with his best opportunity to win a spot in the 16-driver Chase.
A road-course ace, Ambrose has been especially good at Watkins Glen over the years. In his six previous starts, the driver of the No. 9 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford has five top-five finishes. In fact, Ambrose has scored two wins in the last three races at WGI.
Last season, Ambrose appeared to be on his way to a third-straight victory, but was mired mid-pack late in the race and was turned by Tony Stewart after a restart with just five laps to go, relegating him to a disappointing 31st-place finish.
Ambrose is running double-duty this weekend, also competing in Saturday's NASCAR Nationwide Series race. He was in the top five in Friday's opening Cup practice and second in the day's final practice.
With so much on the line for Ambrose and the No. 9 team, it would be a mistake to leave him off your roster this week.
Driver #2: Brad Keselowski
Watkins Glen stats: 0 wins; 3 top 5s; 3 top 10s; Average finish: 6.5
For the past three seasons, Brad Keselowski has come as close as a driver can come to scoring a win at Watkins Glen. After a 20th-place showing in his Watkins Glen debut in 2010, the driver of the No. 2 Team Penske Ford has finished second the past three years.
Heading into Sunday's race at The Glen, Keselowski is bound to be a factor yet again. He was third-fastest in the weekend's opening practice session, and among one of the strongest cars in the garage.
If Keselowski can improve his results and score his first Watkins Glen victory, it would be his fourth win of the season, setting him ahead of his championship contenders.
Either way, Keselowski should have a strong day on Sunday and would be a solid pick for your fantasy roster.
Driver #3: Kyle Busch
Watkins Glen stats: 2 wins; 4 top 5s; 8 top 10s; Average finish: 8.1
When it comes to Watkins Glen, Kyle Busch has been a factor at the end in nearly each of his nine Sprint Cup Series starts.
A two-time winner, Busch's only Watkins Glen finish outside the top 10 came during his rookie campaign in 2005. Busch is the defending race winner at The Glen, spun out while leading on the final lap in 2012 and finished third in 2011. During those three races, Busch also led a total of 121 laps.
While last weekend's race at Pocono resulted in a disappointing DNF for an engine failure, Busch could turn it all around very easily Sunday at Watkins Glen.
Driver #4: Jeff Gordon
Watkins Glen stats: 4 wins; 6 top 5s; 9 top 10s; Average finish: 15.8
One of NASCAR's best road-course racers, Jeff Gordon's recent hot streak should continue Sunday at Watkins Glen.
A four-time winner at The Glen, Gordon has been quite cold on the New York road course. The last time Gordon went to Victory Lane at Watkins Glen was 13 years ago in 2001. Since then, the four-time Sprint Cup champion only has two top 10 finishes.
However, Gordon heads into Sunday's race with momentum on his side. Coming off his historic win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Gordon dominated much of last week's race at Pocono Raceway before fading late and finishing sixth.
Despite his recent history at Watkins Glen, Gordon starts on the pole, should be a factor during Sunday's race and could quite possibly score his third victory of the season.
Driver #5: AJ Allmendinger
Watkins Glen stats: 0 wins; 1 top 5; 3 top 10s; Average finish: 9.2
Things have certainly been looking up for AJ Allmendinger and his JTG Daugherty Racing organization. Within the past two months, both Clorox and Kimberly-Clark Corporation have extended the deals with the team, securing sponsorship on the No. 47 Chevrolet for next few years.
Things could not be happening at a better time for Allmendinger. Headed into Sunday's race at Watkins Glen, Allmendinger is looking to score his first Sprint Cup Series victory and first Chase berth.
Allmendinger understands his team has a long way to go to seriously contend for the Sprint Cup title, but knows they could have a big weekend on the road course.
"When it comes to this weekend I feel like a couple of weeks ago we had a really good test here," he said. "I feel like if we do the right things we can be in contention to win the race. I don't want to make it all or nothing. If we don't win and we have a great top-five, top-three run, but we don't win I don't want that to be a disappointing weekend. But like I said, I think if we do the right things, kind of like at Sonoma where we had a good shot to win that race, we will have good speed in the race car I believe."
Even if Allmendinger can't score that elusive first Sprint Cup Series victory, he should have a strong day for your fantasy team.
As always, these are simply suggestions, so do your research, pick wisely, and best of luck.
VIDEO: AJ Allmendinger ride-along on the road course at Watkins Glen