Nothing makes people want to go bowling quite like a NASCAR race. This week’s GoBowling at The Glen is the second of three road course races on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series circuit. This is also the 22nd race of 26 scheduled for the regular season, so the playoff chase is on.
We’ve seen crazy things happen here before to upset the postseason picture and that could be in store for us this week as well.
Odds are on the right-hand side for desktop viewers and down below the comment box for mobile viewers as we head to Watkins Glen International to handicap this weekend’s race.
As The World Turns
There are 11 turns on the 2.45-mile course at Watkins Glen that the drivers will have to navigate. This is technically the “Short Course” at the speedway. The long course uses “The Boot”, which has a different configuration and NASCAR has played around with using it to spice things up a little bit.
Anyway, some dudes like road course racing and some don’t. The Xfinity Series has additional road course races at Mid-Ohio and Road America on its schedule. Up until the addition of the Roval at Charlotte Motor Speedway during the playoffs, the MENCS only had two road course races. The other one is at Sonoma early in the season.
The drivers will run 90 laps accounting for 220.5 miles in this race. The last time overtime was required was 2011. That race was won by Marcus Ambrose, who also won the following year.
Stack ‘Em and Rack ‘Em
Not a whole lot changed last week with Denny Hamlin’s win at Pocono. Hamlin picked up some playoff points and moved up to fourth. Kevin Harvick was the pole sitter and led the most laps before finishing sixth. He stayed in third place. Kyle Busch was ninth and won the first stage for the second straight week. He’s second in points. Everybody is chasing Joey Logano, who only has a six-point edge on Busch.
Last week’s race sure was interesting. Erik Jones picked up his third straight top-five finish and now sits 13th in points. William Byron and Kyle Larson also finished in the top five.
Jimmie Johnson won the second stage and now sits just 12 points behind Ryan Newman and Clint Bowyer for the last playoff spot. Johnson has a new crew chief this week, as Cliff Daniels takes over for Kevin Meendering. Daniels was the race engineer in 2016. Something needs to change for the 48 and this is a really big change. Steve Letarte, Jeff Burton, and Dale Jarrett had a lot to say about the move shortly after it was announced.
That could make things interesting down the line, but Johnson has never won here and has only finished in the top five once since 2008.
Beating Around the Busch
There is one active driver with multiple wins here. It is Kyle Busch. He won in 2008 and 2013. Tony Stewart had five wins here and Jeff Gordon had four. Mark Martin had three. Rusty Wallace, Ricky Rudd, and Ambrose are the only other multiple winners outside of Busch. Big names do tend to win this race. Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr., and Chase Elliott are the last four winners. IndyCar star Juan Pablo Montoya has a win here.
AJ Allmendinger won in 2014 and oddsmakers have been living off of that one win when setting odds for road course races for a while now. This is actually his first NASCAR race of the season. This is a course where shifting is critically important. It isn’t a course where you get a lot of young upstarts. You get a lot of experienced drivers with elite pit crews because this style of driving is hell on the car.
You probably don’t want to look too far down the board in a race like this.
Busch is the +275 favorite with his two career wins. He was second at Sonoma earlier this year when Truex won. Truex is the clear-cut second favorite at +340. Nobody else is better than 10/1 as of Wednesday’s posting. Busch has four additional top-five finishes to go along with his two victories dating back to 2008. His resume is the best of active drivers here and he is a deserving favorite.
Truex is solid in road course races as well. Even before he emerged on the scene as a title threat, he had top-five outcomes here in 2008, 2011, and 2013. He was second last year and won the year prior. He’s also a back-to-back winner at Sonoma. The second favorite role suits him well and he could very well snag this win also.
After that, you have to do some digging. Elliott won last year, but was 13th the two previous years and didn’t stand out in his Xfinity Series starts at The Glen. Hamlin has had a decent run with a win, a fourth, and a 13th, but he was the top qualifier last year. He might be the best value play on the board at +1100.
Harvick runs well at Sonoma, but not as well at The Glen, with one top-five since his 2006 win. Bowyer was fifth a couple years ago and has also run well at Sonoma. He was third on the Charlotte Roval last year in the race that Ryan Blaney won. Speaking of Blaney, he hasn’t finished higher than eighth here, but was third at Sonoma earlier in the year and had that Charlotte win. He had some good road course runs in the Xfinity Series in the past. You could do worse than +1550 on him.
If you want a super ridiculous price, Matt Tifft is +110000. Tifft was fourth at the Xfinity Series level at Mid-Ohio and second at Road America last year. He was third at both tracks in 2017. I can’t see it, but what the hell?
This isn’t a race where you want to get too cute, even though there is some potential for chaos on road courses. Truex is the best bet at +340, even with the depressed price. One of Blaney or Bowyer is a reasonable mid-range shot. There aren’t many long shot prices worth considering.