Race: Cheez-It 355 Predictions to Win
Date: Sunday August 9, 2015
Track: Watkins Glen International
Time: 2 pm ET
by Virginia Vroom, NASCAR Handicapper, Predictem.com
Pocono turned out to be quite the spectacle on Sunday with an enormous amount of cautions and a race that became a fuel strategy win for Matt Kenseth. Joey Logano was holding strong along with Kyle Busch, but both fell short and ran out of fuel in the closing laps, leaving Matt Kenseth to take the checkers. Kyle Busch was still pretty pleased with his run despite his lack of fuel. He still had a smile on his face in the post-race interview, which is rare for him when a win slips out of his grips. Regardless, he sits in a pretty good place moving into these closing weeks before the Chase.
This weekend represents another potential win for Busch as we head to Watkins Glen. In his first appearance back this season at Sonoma, Busch managed to take the win. Honestly, I don’t know that there’s really any track that will stop Kyle from managing to compete for the win or actually take home the checkers. This weekend will be no different. The Glen is a place that is technically difficult for many NASCAR drivers because of its obvious differences from typical NASCAR ovals. Drivers are used to turning left. Obviously, the road courses force the drivers to turn right and left and to build a car suited for such purposes. While it may not seem like a big deal, it’s a very technically difficult challenge for drivers and their teams to set up a car in a way that is completely contrary to what they’re used to.
Watkins Glen is an 8 turn 2.454-mile road course with some seriously tough turns for drivers to navigate. The hard part of The Glen is passing. The inner loop and outer loop are popular places to pass as soon as the drivers come out of the backstretch. The loops are also a particularly popular place for wrecks because of the passing opportunities. That being said, you can imagine the amount of contact that drivers have with each other throughout this race. It is a difficult place to come out with untarnished fenders. Quarter panels are undoubtedly blemished and many suffer catastrophic tire failure because of contact as well. I expect this weekend to be no different with the amount of competition still left before we close out the field for the Chase.
Interestingly enough, I don’t know that historical winners are our best source of prediction this week. If we go that route, Jeff Gordon should and probably still will be a favorite. He’s had an enormous amount of success at this track, and this is likely one of his best chances to get into the Chase simply due to his experience. Knowing the difficulty he’s had this year thus far, though, it’s hard to put a solid bet on him. I believe he will do well and even be competitive, but I don’t know that he’s got quite enough to take the win. In my opinion, we are really looking at either Kyle Busch or Kevin Harvick this weekend. I’m already tired of hearing Kyle Busch’s name, but he’s done absolutely everything necessary to get himself into the top 30, and I believe that he’s going to be the one to watch on Sunday. Kevin Harvick has become very confident on road courses, and confidence is a must-have characteristic here. He will push his way to the front and also be competing for the win. Let’s take a look at all of your potential winners this weekend at Watkins Glen:
My Pick to Win: Kyle Busch
Middle of the Road Pick: Martin Truex Jr.
Dark Horse Prediction: AJ Allmendinger. Bet your picks at an online sportsbook where credit cards work, where your money is safe (one of the oldest online!) and where you get a generous signup bonus: Intertops Sportsbook.
Allmendinger is a road course driver. He’s awesome here. I really think that he’s got a shot to be up front this weekend. If he qualifies well, look for him to be a top competitor this weekend. Matrin Truex Jr. is also going to be one to watch. He had a good run through the first part of the season, but his streak has quieted in the latter portion. This should be a good track for him to really get back into the competitive seat that we saw him in earlier this year. He typically runs well at road courses and should have an advantage of a somewhat veteran status on a good portion of the field in the road course. He’s also got just enough aggressiveness that will play out well on this type of track. After last week’s struggle, Truex will likely look to be up front this Sunday. Let’s take a look at how everyone fared after the race at Pocono.
Here are your current top 16 after last week’s race:
1. Kevin Harvick
2. Joey Logano
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
4. Jimmie Johnson
5. Martin Truex Jr.
6. Brad Keselowski
7. Matt Kenseth
8. Jamie McMurray
9. Kurt Busch
10. Jeff Gordon
11. Denny Hamlin
12. Paul Menard
13. Ryan Newman
14. Clint Bowyer
15. Kasey Kahne
16. Carl Edwards
While the other Hendrick drivers will most likely have some success this weekend, Kahne is recovering from a very hard hit to pit wall at Pocono after getting loose off the corner. He needs to really make gains this weekend, but this certainly isn’t one of his best tracks to do it at. We will have to wait and see if some of these guys can stay out of trouble long enough to do themselves a favor in the points. Watkins Glen can be a tricky place to get around, but it’s definitely a great race to watch. Stay tuned for an awesome afternoon of road course racing at The Glen! Another great place to wager on NASCAR races is 5Dimes. Tons of prop bet offerings and they pay fast!