GoBowling.com at the Glen Picks and Analysis
Date: Sunday, August 4, 2019
Track: Watkins Glen International
Time: 3 pm ET
What Did We Learn From Last Week?
Denny Hamlin earned his redemption this weekend at Pocono after losing a hard-fought battle with Kevin Harvick the week prior at New Hampshire. In fact, the entire Joe Gibbs garage had a great day. Coach Gibbs had to be smiling pretty big after a 1-2-3 finish. Even Kyle Busch, who didn’t manage to get in on that 1-2-3 finish was still within the top 10. Hamlin was thrilled as he earned his 5th win at this track, but it was actually his first win in 9 years here. That’s pretty unreal, being that his initial success came from Pocono. This track has been good to him, and I am sure that he will continue on this momentum into next week. That said, there are several drivers who were frustrated. As I mentioned already, Kyle Busch struggled towards the end with pit strategy. That is something that I mentioned in my preview last week. Pocono is full of different strategies, and Kyle’s ultimately failed, as did a few other drivers.
Although Kevin Harvick led the most laps at 62, with Kyle shortly behind, he joined Busch in a strategy failure. A lot of it had to do with untimely cautions. The race saw a total of 7 cautions overall, which is generally a rarity at Pocono. Several of the top drivers were knocked out of contention in a late-race wreck involving Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer, Michael McDowell, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., causing the race to go into overtime. That created some stress among the top 3 Gibbs drivers as they automatically went into a fuel-saving mode. Hamlin charged into victory lane, though, as his conservation methods worked, followed by teammates Erik Jones and Martin Truex Jr. William Byron and Kyle Larson rounded out the top 5 spots. Kevin Harvick meddled his way to a 6th place finish followed by Daniel Hemric, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch, and Ryan Blaney to close out the top 10. The last few weeks have given us some action and overall good racing. This weekend, I anticipate that to continue as the drivers and teams head to Watkins Glen.
Where Are We Headed This Weekend?
The Glen gives us a nice reprieve from the typical oval tracks. It’s one of only a couple of road course tracks that we see throughout the season, but It’s tricky for drivers not used to racing off of the ovals. The ones that typically excel are drivers who have raced in other series before or dirt track racers. Dirt track racing requires a different skill set than regular asphalt or concrete driving. For some reason, the nitty-gritty drivers tend to do well on these road courses that need a little more aggressiveness.
Additionally, the drivers are going to be worried about their equipment here. The Glen is tough on the cars. Between engines and drive trains, there will inevitably be equipment failures that are going to ruin the day. Something else to consider is how close we are to the playoffs. This race is essentially a “make or break race” for a lot of drivers that are on the bubble. Should a driver experience a catastrophic failure at this point, knocking him out of the race, he is essentially done for the season in terms of playoff contention. Drivers really need to focus on being consistent, staying out of trouble, and getting as many points as possible.
When it comes down to picking a winner, one of the essential factors is qualifying. Where a driver qualifies means a lot here because that driver gets the pick of the pit stalls. Pit stalls are a premium at Watkins Glen, and more often than not, they help to gain valuable track position for the driver. Watch for qualifying, and that will be a good indicator of where these guys are going to run. On top of that, history does mean a lot here, as this is such a different style of racing compared to what these drivers are used to. It’s going to be a bit of a hard choice this weekend, but the Gibbs garage is going to be the elite group once again, in my opinion. We have last week’s winner, Denny Hamlin, who won this race three years ago. He also had the pole here last year. Then we have Martin Truex Jr. who won here two years ago and managed a 2nd place finish last year. Truex has an excellent shot at winning, probably the best if you ask me. He will be chased by Kyle Busch, who is still looking for some validation after suffering self-inflicted losses for all intents and purposes over the last few weeks. Let’s look at your potential winners heading into Watkins Glen with odds provided by Bovada.
Winner: Martin Truex Jr. (7-2)
Middle of the Road: Erik Jones (30-1)
Dark Horse: Daniel Hemric (200-1)
Hemric has been surprising. He finished in the top 10 at Pocono. He’s one of those drivers that will be doing really really well then make a rookie mistake and take himself out. He’s gaining experience, and that’s what counts right now for him and this team. As they continue to grow, expect to see this guy running up front more and more. And if you want a nice payout and don’t have much to lose, throw a few bucks out there and see what he can do for you! Erik Jones is on the move every week. This kid has got “it”. He’s finished in the top 10 in his only two runs here both times. He’s a bubble driver, so this weekend will be intense for this entire team, but if Jones can withstand the equipment failures and stay out of trouble, there’s no doubt that he will be running in the front of the pack throughout the afternoon. He’s got to do well this weekend, or he’s in danger of permanently falling out of contention for the playoffs this season. Let’s take a look at where everyone stands after Pocono:
GoBowling.com at the Glen Odds
- Joey Logano (12-1)
- Kyle Busch (5-2)
- Kevin Harvick (12-1)
- Denny Hamlin (10-1)
- Martin Truex Jr. (7-2)
- Brad Keselowski (12-1)
- Kurt Busch (16-1)
- Chase Elliott (10-1)
- Aric Almirola (30-1)
- Ryan Blaney (14-1)
- Alex Bowman (14-1)
- William Byron (40-1)
- Erik Jones (30-1)
- Kyle Larson (30-1)
- Clint Bowyer (12-1)
- Ryan Newman (40-1)
The top 8 drivers are currently locked into the playoffs along with Alex Bowman due to wins. The remaining seven spots are open, but there are a lot of drivers close for just those spots. Jimmie Johnson is sitting outside the bubble once again, in 17th position. I honestly don’t even want to see him in the Chase after the season he’s had. He’s not in championship form. That said, he’s getting a new crew chief starting this weekend. Maybe that’s what this team needs to make a turnaround. Something has to give. Perhaps a road course and new crew chief will be just what they need. Stay tuned for a great day of racing at Watkins Glen.
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