Commentary

Good, Bad and Ugly: Centurion Boats at the Glen

Updated: August 8, 2008, 11:48 AM ET
By Mark Garrow | Jayski.com

Mark Garrow provides driver trends for Sunday's Centurion Boats at the Glen at Watkins Glen.

* A driver with an asterisk next to his name needs to qualify for the race based on time.

• Allmendinger finished 38th at Sonoma earlier this season.
• He didn't have the best day at Pocono and still finished 19th. That tells you how far this team has come. I thought we'd see more out of him at Sonoma, given he's got some road racing experience, but he disappointed. Still, his team is in way better shape than back in June. If he qualifies well, he could be our top "bonus baby" come Sunday.

• Almirola will make his first Cup Series start at the Glen this weekend. He finished 28th at Sonoma earlier this year and 11th at the Nationwide race in the Montreal road course race last year.
• A top-25 is about all you can hope for here. He's in the deep end of the pool at Watkins Glen and it's filled with sharks.

• He is attempting to make his third-ever Cup Series this weekend. He finished 42nd at Sonoma earlier this season, but ran very strong all day until transmission issues forced him out of the race.
• Ambrose's Stock Car Challenge (SCC) value at 13.1 which makes him more expensive than Allmendinger. Plus, it'll be like Sonoma where he might look good early, but the car will let him down again and a lot more guys are competitive at Watkins Glen then they are at Infineon.

• He is driving the same car he drove to an 11th-place finish at Sonoma earlier this season and finished 10th here last year.
• I have Biffle ranked a little lower than perhaps is fair going into Sunday's race. He had a decent 11th-place finish at Sonoma, but I don't see that at the Glen. I see more like a top-20. He did finish 10th at the Glen last year, but his average finish is more than 30.

• Blaney is driving the same car he drove to a 20th-place finish earlier this season at Sonoma.
• He has eight starts here with an average finish of 29.9. His best finish is 18th with the rest of his starts resulting in finishes of 24th or worse.
• Blaney is overpriced for SCC, especially at the Glen. He might be able to run in the top 25, but not much more than that. Robby Gordon is cheaper so take the risk with him.

• Bowyer is racing the same car he drove to a fourth-place finish at Sonoma. His best finish in two starts here is 14th.
• He had a solid fourth-place run at Sonoma, and was 14th and 16th in two races at the Glen making him an underrated road racer. The problem I've got with Bowyer is the maddening inconsistency this team has shown lately and for a driver with an SCC value of 21.2 there shouldn't be as much risk.

• Burton is driving the same car he drove to a 13th-place finish at Sonoma earlier this season. He has three top-10s and two top-5s in 14 Glen starts.
• With one top-10 in the past four races, this is another RCR team that has lost a step to the competition. In the past five years, Burton has two Glen finishes of 11th and 12th sandwiched in between three runs of 30th or worse. You can do better if you want to spend as much as 22.7 in Stock Car Challenge.

• Busch raced this car to a 38th-place finish at Sonoma earlier this season and tested it at Road Atlanta earlier this week.
• He has eight starts here with a top-10. He finished 11th last year.
• Just when you start to think things were coming together for Kurt Busch, wham three ugly finishes; 28th-40th-38th. His SCC value dropped another .4 and he's down to 18.2, but I'm staying away like he's got poison ivy.

• Kyle has two road course wins this year. He won the Nationwide race in Mexico City and the Cup race at Sonoma. He's driving the same car he won with at Sonoma and also has two top-10s in two starts here.
• Won the only road course race we've had this year on the Cup side. And has won three of the past six races. Lately, though, it's hard to figure out which Kyle Busch will show up. Some of the other guys like Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson have seemingly caught up to him. Key for him will be qualifying. If he qualifies well, he might be worth keeping, but I'd be hard press to make a "buy" this week.

• Carpentier is driving the same car he drove to a 23rd-place finish at Sonoma. His first Cup start was here last year when he led seven laps and finished 22nd.
• With a SCC value of 13.4, Carpentier could get some interest this weekend. If that value allows you to go top heavy, the Canadian might be able to finish top-20, which wouldn't be so bad at the price if your top guns score top-5s.

• Of the two road courses, this is Junior's best one statistically with three top-10s and two top-5s with a career-best of third.
• I can't recommend him as a "buy" because he's been a little off lately. Still, if you already have him, I did rank him eighth and he could be worth a "hold." Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart have a lower cost and they will outrun Junior, which is why it's not the time to purchase him.

Carl Edwards

• Edwards has four starts here with two top-10s and a top-5. He's piloting the same car he drove to a top-10 at Sonoma earlier this season.
• Edwards has the vibe right now and is really rolling, rising to the top value in the SCC. If you have him locked in from a lower value hang on to him because he's going to come up pretty big this weekend and will have a shot to win Michigan this week. If you don't already have him, maybe it's time to dump Kyle Busch and jump on the train.

• Won the Nationwide race at Montreal and is making his 11th start at the Glen this weekend, with a career-best finish of second (twice).
• I liked him best among the road course ringers at Sonoma and do as well at the Glen. He's driven hundreds and hundreds of miles on this track and I see potential to run top-15, no worse than a top-20. Not bad for a guy valued at 14.9.

• Gilliland has one start here, finishing 33rd at this race last year. He will drive the same car he drove to a runner-up finish in Sonoma this season.
• Even though he finished second in Sonoma, I don't see Gilliland doing that again this weekend. Sonoma was a technical track where the California driver had a lot of experience. Glen is a different track, more guys will be competitive and Gilliland doesn't have that much experience on this track. It adds up to a top-15 to top-20 run for me, maybe not enough for a 16.3 driver.

Jeff Gordon

• Gordon is the all-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series road course champion with nine wins, four of them coming at the Glen. He also has eight top-10s and six top-5s here with an average finish of 12.3.
• I have Gordon ranked third in the prerace standings. He should challenge for a win. He's the fifth highest valued driver in SCC and a better bet this weekend than all four guys in front of him.

Robby Gordon

• Gordon has nine starts here with seven top-5s and a win. His past three races have resulted in top-5s.
• Robby could be the savior or the devil for your team this week. He's won at the Glen before, but he is brutal on his equipment and has only two top-10 finishes all season and no, one wasn't at Sonoma. Still, with a value of 14.1, he's going to be awfully tempting.

• Hamlin was the runner-up here last year and finished 10th the year before. He's driving the same car he drove to a 27th-place finish at Sonoma.
• He's a very underrated road course driver and is much better at the Glen than he is at Sonoma. I think he's a top-10 or maybe a top-5. I've ranked him fifth because I think Hamlin can make us happy on Sunday.

• In seven races here, Harvick has four top-10s, two top-5s, and an average finish of 12th. He won this race in 2006.
• This is my way out there pick. I have Harvick ranked second because I think this team has found the magic again and he could make a run at the win.

• This will be Hornish's first Cup start here, but he's made three IRL starts with two top-10s.

• Sooner or later Hornish will score a top-10, but it won't be this weekend. Forget what he's done in the IRL at the Glen just remember on the season, no top-10s and an average finish near 29.

Jimmie Johnson

• Johnson has six starts here with three top-5s and an average finish of 14.2. He's driving the same car he drove to a 15th-place finish at Infineon.
• Three top-3s in a row, I've got Jimmie ranked seventh this week. That's because I see him as a lock top-10 and potential top-5. I don't think he can win, but he's proven me wrong before.

• Jones has seven Cup starts, two Nationwide starts here in addition to several IMSA starts.

• In six starts here, Kahne has a career-best finish of 14th with an average finish of 20th. He finished 27th here last year.
• I didn't give Kasey a whole lot of love with a ranking of 26th, but I just don't see a lot happening. A 33rd at Sonoma didn't help me fall more in love with Kahne either.

• In eight starts here, Kenseth has three top-10s. Kenseth is driving the same car he drove to an eighth-place finish at Sonoma.
• I have Matt ranked 15th this weekend because there's always the chance he could run top-10, but given his recent track record at the Glen, he's more apt to run in the teens. If you have him in SCC, consider holding, but don't buy. He should, however, be pretty strong next week at Michigan.

• Kvapil has one start here finishing 40th. He's driving the same chassis he piloted to a 22nd-place finish at Sonoma.

• In 15 starts at the Glen, Labonte has six top-10s, two top-5s, and an average finish of 16.9. He finished 24th here last year.
• He was 39th at Sonoma and his average finish over the past four races is 22. This is a week not to take a flyer on the former champ.

• McDowell is attempting to make his first Cup Series start here. He made his road course debut at Sonoma finishing 21st.

• Here's another guy who is worth some consideration this week when you'd normally stay away from him. His SCC value is 12.0 and if he can run 18th to 21st on Sunday, you could go top heavy. It's a risk that needs at least a little thought.

• McMurray has an average finish of 17th and is driving the same car he drove to a 34th-place finish at this race last year.
• McMurray is a little better road racer than he's given credit for. Has a decent midpack value of 18.4 and the normal ability to finish 13th or better at the Glen, which he's done in three of the past four races there.

• In 11 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series road course races, Mears has three top-10s and two top-5s. He finished fifth at Infineon earlier this season and has a career-best finish of fourth here. Mears is driving the Infineon car this weekend.
• Mears is certainly capable of a top-10 in this race, but he's been inconsistent. I rank him 20th so I expect perhaps at least a 13th- to 20th-place finish and you can decide if 16.0 is too much to pay for him. I think so.

• Menard has four starts here with an average finish of 26th. His best finish is 19th with the remaining finishes being 27th or worse.

• Montoya finished this race 39th last year. He has a win and a sixth-place effort at Infineon.
• He wrecked out last year, but was running strong. I like Montoya for two reasons this week. One, his value of 17.0 and I can see him in the top five as long as he stays on the track and out of trouble. This team desperately needs a good run and I think Montoya plays it cool to get it.

• Nemechek has 14 starts here with four top-10s and an average finish of 20.7.

• Newman has one top-5 and three top-10s at the Glen. He's driving the same car he drove to a seventh-place finish earlier at Sonoma.
• I expect a top-10 out of Newman on Sunday, and his 19.8 SCC value is not too bad.

• Papis is attempting to make only his second-ever Cup Series race. He finished 35th earlier this season at Infineon. He finished 41st in the Nationwide Series race here last year.

• Petty has 20 starts here with a win and four top-10s. His last top-10 here was in 1999.

• Ragan has one start here, finishing 32nd last year.

• I don't see much from Ragan here this weekend. He was 24th at Sonoma and might be able to equal that at the Glen, but is way overpriced at 20.3.

• Reutimann is making his first Cup Series race here and has one Nationwide start, finishing 25th last year.
• Not sure there's much here and there are several drivers below him in value that would be better picks on Sunday.

• Riggs has three starts here with an average finish of 25.7.

• Sadler finished this race 17th last year and has four top-15s in nine starts at the Glen.
• This guy is a much better road racer than he's given credit for. I've ranked him well down in my top-30 though because he's probably only top-20 material. But and it's a big BUT, keep an eye on where he qualifies. If he qualifies top-15 there's a good chance he can run top-15.

• Said has 14 total NASCAR races here-Truck, Nationwide, and Cup-with two Cup Series top-10s along with several sports car wins.
• I've got Said ranked 17th and second among the road course ringers behind Ron Fellows. If he could just finish the way he'll run inside the race he might be gold at 15.3, but that usually isn't the case.

• Simo has two starts here, mostly recently a 41st in 2006.

• Sorenson has two starts here, with a best finish of 12th.
• He could run in the top 15, but I don't see it. Plus, there are cheaper options that will definitely outrun him at lower $$.

Tony Stewart

• Stewart has four wins here and is the defending winner.
• He has finished outside the top 10 only twice and has led 190 laps here.
• Tony is my top pick this week. I think it's very possible he'll win two in a row at the Glen. This is the time of year, Tony usually starts to heat up and roll. Valued at 22.1, he would be a nice fit on anybody's SCC team.

• Truex has two starts here with a top-10.
• He had a decent run at Sonoma and a sixth at this place in 2007. Truex is one of those tricky picks. He could get a top-10. He's another guy to keep an eye on in qualifying. If he starts anywhere in the top 15, he'll be able to push for another top-10.

• In four starts, Vickers has one top-10 and an average finish of 23.8. He finished 41st here last year.
• I was high on Vickers, but they've had a run of bad luck lately. He could snag a top-20, but I need more than that from a guy valued at 18.9.

• Waltrip has 20 starts here with four top-10s and a top-5 with an average finish of 20th. Is he worth a flyer at 13.3? Probably not.

Mark Garrow

Fantasy Racing
Mark Garrow covers fantasy racing for ESPN.com.