NASCAR Weekend: Watkins Glen Preview

There’s only 5 races left before the Chase begins, and the next stop in the Sprint Cup Series hits Watkins Glen International on Sunday, August 14th as racers switch over to road course action for the Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at the Glen event (yes, this is the worst sponsor name I’ve ever seen, too).

Leading the charge on this road course in terms of experience is veteran driver Mark Martin, driving the #5 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet. Martin will become tied with Michael Waltrip on Sunday for the most NASCAR starts at Watkins Glen, and is a three-time winner there. While he hasn’t seen a victory there since 1995 he’s sitting on a record 12 top-five finishes and 16 top-tens at the Glen, certainly showing that he knows this track well and will be the veteran in the pack on Sunday.

However, this year’s crop of the best road course drivers finds a number of different names usually not associated with the best odds for a given NASCAR event, and looking over the current odds for winners on Sunday at Watkins Glen, you might be surprised at which names bubble to the top.

Bodog Sportsbook holds the odds for all drivers set to compete on Sunday, with the top odds being given to Marcos Ambrose at 9/2 to win based on his three consecutive Nationwide Series wins there.

The Aussie driver however has failed to nab a victory at the Glen in Sprint Cup Series competition, finishing with two 3rd place finishes and one 2nd place finish in his last three races there. Is the saying down under ’4th times’ the charm’?

Tony Stewart comes in the as the most decorated driver at Watkins Glen this weekend, earning 5 victories, 7 top-five finishes and 10 top-tens. His average finish is 5.4, so expect the No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevy to be in the hunt for certain. Stewart has the second-highest odds of victory at Bodog Sportsbook, at 13/2.

While Juan Pablo Montoya comes in at the third-highest odds for raceday (15/2 odds), Jeff Gordon sits in my #3 spot as a candidate to win the race, based on his strong history at the Glen. He’s won 4 times there with 6 top-five finishes and 9 top-tens with 2 pole positions earned. Gordon gets 9/1 odds to win, along with Jimmie Johnson, who could also be a solid pick as he’s yet to earn a victory on this road course.
Carl Edwards maintains a slim 9-point lead on Jimmie Johnson in the driver standings heading into this weekend’s 90-lap road race, and comes in at 16/1 odds. Edwards and Johnson both have 3 top-five finishes, though Edwards has had more success with an average finish of 8.2 (vs. Johnson’s 14.7).

Not to be overlooked however are Kyle and Kurt Busch, who finished 2nd and 3rd at Pocono last weekend, and sit -11 and -15 points behind Edwards in the driver standings. Kyle Busch figures to be the better driver at the Glen however, and at 8/1 odds, the M&M’s car could be a standout to look for on Sunday.

Our 1-2-3 Pick for Watkins Glen: Tony Stewart, Marcos Ambrose, Kyle Busch.

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