Chase Elliott is on the provisional pole for the GoBowling at The Glen on Sunday at Watkins Glen International (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN/NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Does the defending race winner at the road course merit a spot in your Fantasy Live lineup? Weâve dissected the numbers to offer a suggested lineup worthy of your Fantasy Live consideration. Remember that inspection Sunday morning makes the starting lineup official.
RJ Kraftâs Fantasy Live lineup for race day at Watkins Glen:
1. Kyle Busch
2. Martin Truex Jr.
3. Chase Elliott
4. William Byron
5. Denny Hamlin
Garage: Brad Keselowski
Alternate options if any of the planned lineup fails inspection on Sunday morning: Clint Bowyer, Jimmie Johnson, Erik Jones, Michael McDowell and Kyle Larson.
Analysis: Iâm sticking with my original lineup but moving Elliott into an active spot for Keselowski. If these cars pass inspection on Sunday morning, Iâd have five of the top six cars in the starting lineup, plus a driver-crew chief combo known for shaking it up and taking risks in the garage. I expect Byron to go full throttle on stage points.
The way Watkins Glenâs stages are (and we saw this in the Xfinity race on Saturday as well as the Cup race last year) drivers donât have to punt both stages to set themselves up better for the win. Elliott and Truex each won a stage last year and finished 1-2. My point is you may not get stage points in both stages â 19 drivers got stage points in last yearâs Cup race; Truex was the only driver to earn stage points in both stages â but the odds are youâll get some sort of points in the stages from the bulk of your lineup.
Should any of my planned lineup lose their starting spot due to a failed inspection, I will be dipping into the bucket of drivers chasing stage points (see the list above for a replacement). For the bonus picks, I like Truex to score the Stage 1 win with Hamlin taking Stage 2 and Kyle Busch bringing home the victory.
Each week in this space, weâll also highlight two Props Challenge items for players.
1. Will the polesitter lead the first seven laps? Elliott has one of the best cars this weekend and while the Joe Gibbs Racing fleet will be in hot pursuit, Iâll say YES he leads the first seven laps. Probably not much more than that, though, in Stage 1.
2. Which driver finishes higher? Paul Menard or Ryan Newman? Both drivers qualified outside the top 20 pending inspection but my gut says Newman will do what he always does â grind out a finish that you donât quite expect. The Roush Fenway Racing driver is currently in the provisional playoff grid so he canât afford a bad day because there is a hungry pack of drivers waiting to grab that spot. Menard has never scored a top 10 here in 15 starts, so Iâll go with Newman for that reason as well.