NASCAR DFS Picks, Fades, Projections for Watkins Glen

NASCAR heads to Watkins Glen for the first second road course races of the year. With qualifying inspection taking place Sunday morning, this article is subject to change, but here are my post-qualifying, but pre-inspection NASCAR DFS picks. I’ll have the NASCAR DFS Multi-Lineup OptimizerSim Scores, and Splits apps updated within an hour of this publishing.

Tomorrow immediately after the official starting lineup is set, I’ll update the article, model, and apps once more to account for any possible changes, as well as my picks, if necessary. After all that is done, I’ll jump right into RotoViz Live over on my Twitch page for a FREE live show. UPDATE: RotoViz Live will be 11:15am ET/8:15am PT. Make sure to follow me on Twitter to get all the updates of when I’ll go live. UPDATE: I really think the live show is going to be a big help. Road courses already require different strategy, and now with some failed technical inspections (more on that below), roster construction has changed a bit as well. Make sure to tune in at 11:15am ET/8:15am PT

For betting insights into the race, be sure to check out my piece at The Action Network.

If you’re new to daily fantasy NASCAR, or simply need a refresher, check out the road course section of my track types article. Brush up on your general GPP strategy and game theory if you want to have a shot at taking down first place. If you’re more of a cash game player, check out how to target high floor drivers, and remember to find any potential race dominators.

Let’s get to the NASCAR DFS picks, rankings, and projections for Watkins Glen!


The model projections assume that the driver finishes the race – hence why you don’t see any average finishing positions worse than about 28th. The Pts column shows the average projected DraftKings points for races when the driver finishes the race.

Denny Hamlin16.169.876.3138.31030023.8%
Kyle Busch26.1714.679.0941.871180039.6%
Chase Elliott37.39.226.3337.87810025.0%
Martin Truex Jr47.1810.717.6240.131150029.7%
Kyle Larson512.268.795.2329.29950014.3%
Joey Logano610.693.392.5430.74910012.3%
Aric Almirola712.820.641.426.23850010.8%
AJ Allmendinger812.045.062.8630.61830016.0%
Erik Jones912.021.080.529.49670010.7%
Kasey Kahne1013.840.291.0726.9373008.9%
Ryan Blaney1112.093.952.8333.2279009.4%
Michael McDowell1213.230.570.8430.09610019.7%
Jimmie Johnson139.562.522.3839.7870014.9%
Jamie McMurray1411.680.471.1935.34770012.4%
Kevin Harvick157.856.515.0547.451210021.4%
William Byron1614.820.221.1931660013.9%
Brad Keselowski1713.424.173.336.85890023.1%
Clint Bowyer1811.020.521.240.68980036.6%
Ryan Newman1915.530.160.1532.06680011.0%
Chris Buescher2017.750.070.1528.6590021.2%
Daniel Suarez2113.681.210.9138.39750025.6%
Alex Bowman2217.60.080.2430.94650019.7%
Ricky Stenhouse Jr2316.820.360.3933.65570012.7%
Austin Dillon2419.560.080.128.9670009.6%
David Ragan2521.360.010.0726.3156009.4%
Matt Kenseth2619.260.040.3931.69690011.2%
Parker Kligerman2723.510.010.0724.0163004.7%
Matt DiBenedetto2823.890.010.0624.2551005.2%
Bubba Wallace2922.950.070.0427.1450006.6%
Ty Dillon3023.070.010.0927.9540011.7%
Cole Whitt3124.170.010.0726.752006.3%
Ross Chastain3225.620.010.0824.8149002.8%
Josh Bilicki3326.920.010.0623.19
Spencer Gallagher3427.320.010.0623.3847003.5%
Landon Cassill3527.620.010.1123.8148002.8%
Kurt Busch3613.684.963.1655.46930050.0%
Paul Menard3716.760.210.3947.72710043.5%


Clint Bowyer ($9800) — Bowyer will start 19th barring any inspection shenanigans which is much farther back than he is expected to race. Four of Bowyer’s last five races on well-funded teams (he was with the highly underfunded HScott Motorsports in 2016) have ended up in top-six finishes at the Glen, and also has seven consecutive top-10 finishes at Sonoma with 2016 removed as well. Bowyer didn’t turn a whole lot of laps in final practice, but those laps were incredibly fast, placing him fifth on the average speed chart in final practice. UPDATE: With Paul Menard failing inspection, Bowyer moves up to the 18th place starting position. This changes nothing for me with regards to Bowyer in cash, but does reduce his upside by one extra point for GPPs.

Kurt Busch ($9300) — Kurt Busch has never won at Watkins Glen, but does have nine straight top-11 finishes in his last nine incident-free races at the track. Kurt practiced 18th in both sessions, but was more impressive over the long run, posting a 10-consecutive-lap time better than that of his teammate Kevin Harvick in Happy Hour. In a race where place differential and finishing position is king, Kurt has one of the best combined outlooks of those two factors according to the model. UPDATE: Kurt Busch had his qualifying time disallowed, and will start from the rear of the field. This makes him even more of a lock, as his official starting position will be from 36th place. I expect the 41 team to try a bit of strategy to gain track position

Daniel Suarez ($7500) — Suarez is coming of his best-career Cup finish of second last weekend at Pocono, and this weekend showed well in practice, posting top-15 times in both sessions. Suarez has an 87.0 career driver rating at road course races, which puts him 11th among all drivers in this race over the past eight road course races. At this race last year, he rode a clean, incident-free race to a third-place finish. A 23rd place starting position is much farther back than his expected performance. Lock him in for cash games. He’s my favorite cash game play. UPDATE: With Kurt Busch and Menard failing inspection, Suarez starts 21st. He’s still a cash game lock for me.

Sunday morning addition: Paul Menard ($7100) The 21 of Menard has failed post-qualifying inspection. Thus, his qualifying time is disallowed. He will start 37th and is an auto-start in cash games.


Chase Elliott ($8100) — Kyle Busch is the top play from the Big Three this weekend, and should be in a healthy dose of your lineups. However, if there’s a contrarian play to steal a win or dominate some laps, it’s likely going to be Elliott. The 9 team has shown plenty of speed over the past two weeks, leading laps at both New Hampshire and Pocono, and the form looks to continue this weekend. Elliott posted the second-best 10-lap average among eight drivers in final practice, and it nearly matched first-place Kyle Busch’s time. Elliott was behind only Truex and Busch in average lap speed in final practice among all drivers that turned at least 20 laps. UPDATE: Nothing changes with regards to Elliott. He’s a risk I’d be willing to take in GPPs. Just don’t go crazy on him. Kyle Busch still is the guy to beat, while Hamlin and Truex will be tough as well.

Jimmie Johnson ($8700) — I was *thisclose* to writing up Brad Keselowski as the GPP play here, but I decided to go a bit more risky with my pick in the form of Johnson. Keselowski has struggled all weekend looking for speed, while Johnson has been confident and posted some fast times. Johnson wound up seventh on the average speed chart in final practice, and that was over 19 total laps —  a healthy number! Johnson just missed out on final round qualifying, and starts 13th pending inspection. I think he has more upside than Keselowski in terms of finishing position, and comes in $200 cheaper. They are probably pretty close on DraftKings points upside since Johnson starts further forward, but that should shift ownership Keselowski’s way as a result.

UPDATE: Since Paul Menard will start from the rear, that opens up more cheap(er) value with him at $7100. I think that means we can get away from Johnson a bit, and use more Kyle Busch lineups. I’d also build more Martin Truex Jr. lineups as a result. Truex looks to have a top-four car, and has won the last two road course races the Cup series has run, including at The Glen last year. Simply because of their price tags, I think it’s unlikely both Truex and Busch end up in the winning lineup together, but not impossible.

Michael McDowell ($6100) — This is definitely a risky play, given McDowell starts 12th, pending inspection. However, McDowell has been strong all weekend. McDowell had the ninth-best time in opening practice, followed by the fifth-best time in final practice, and also showed up second on the average speed among all laps in final practice. A potential top-ten finish would give McDowell a minimum of 36 DraftKings points, which is huge value at his price tag. He has upside for even more. UPDATE: McDowell becomes a touch riskier with a relatively cheap driver (Menard – $7100) moving to the rear of the field. I’d lower my McDowell exposure thanks to that news, but still have some exposure to him.


Kevin Harvick ($12,100) — Harvick needs close to 60 DraftKings points to be a good play on Sunday, and his path to that number is pretty bleak without a top-three finish. If he finishes third, Harvick will score 56 points, plus a few more for fastest laps, and maybe some laps led. Anything outside of the top three, and he’s probably toast on achieving a point total that allows him to be in the winning lineup. Looking at his practice times, he’s just not there. He only had the fourth-best 10-lap average among eight cars, and the seventh-best overall average speed in final practice, including only fifth among those that made at least 20 laps. You’ll find better value looking at the other drivers listed in the cash and GPP sections, including the other drivers section. UPDATE: I still like fading Harvick, because I don’t think he has a top-three car. However, with Menard moving to the back, that does open up a few avenues for sticking Harvick in your lineup, but I still like a fade overall.

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Co-Owner and Editor-in-Chief at RotoViz. Mathematics Ph.D. 3x qualifier for the DraftKings NASCAR Main Event.
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