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RaceDayScore IndyCar: IndyCar Grand Prix at the Glen

C.J. Radune

Radune covers NASCAR, Formula 1 and soccer for RotoWire. He was named the 2015 Racing Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.

IndyCar Grand Prix at the Glen

Location: Watkins Glen, N.Y.
Course: Watkins Glen International
Format: 3.4-mile road course
Laps: 60

Race Preview

After Graham Rahal finished the postponed Texas 600 with a narrow victory over James Hinchcliffe last week, the IndyCar circus set its sights on Watkins Glen. The historic circuit in upstate New York hasn’t been featured on the IndyCar calendar since 2010. The track has since undergone a repaving project, and the teams took part in testing earlier this season to reacquaint themselves with the layout. The championship standings remain a battle between Will Power and Simon Pagenaud with just two races remaining to make an impact. Each of the Penske contenders has four season wins, though Pagenaud maintains a 28-point advantage after Power missed the opening race of the season. There’s also a hot battle for third-place in the standings with Tony Kanaan and Helio Castroneves separated by one point, though both remain a significant distance away from a battle for the title.

Key Stats at Watkins Glen International

Number of previous races: 6
Winners from pole: 1
Winners from top-5 starters: 6
Winners from top-10 starters: 6
Lowest starting position to win: 4
Fastest race: 120.768 mph

Previous Winners at Watkins Glen

2010 - Will Power
2009 - Justin Wilson
2008 - Ryan Hunter-Reay
2007 - Scott Dixon
2006 - Scott Dixon
2005 - Scott Dixon

Watkins Glen is a fitting course to start the closeout of the 2016 IndyCar schedule. The sweeping turns with significant elevation changes offer a fast circuit that challenges drivers and teams alike, while putting a premium on passing. Scott Dixon was the master of the circuit when the series last made the stop a regular affair. His three wins from six races at the track lead active drivers, though championship contender Will Power is the most recent winner (2010). With just two races remaining in the season all drivers will be anxious to avoid mistakes. Passing can be a challenge on the fast circuit, but we have seen wheel-to-wheel action in some more unexpected places on the circuit. Mistakes at corner entry will enable drivers behind to make moves into the next turn, and any mistakes on pit road will likely send a driver tumbling down the running order. Additionally, the new pavement laid at the facility makes it a completely different challenge than it was six years ago. Teams will have to rewrite their notes in order to continue improvement from the test held there earlier this season. It will be important for teams to have a clean race this week as the 2016 season winds down.

RACE DAY SCORE VALUE PICKS
(Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)

Tier 1 Values

Will Power - $11,800
Simon Pagenaud - $11,500

Tier 2 Values

Josef Newgarden - $10,800
Scott Dixon - $10,700
Graham Rahal - $10,500
Ryan Hunter-Reay - $10,500

Tier 3 Values

Mikhail Aleshin - $9,800
James Hinchcliffe - $9,600
Sebastien Bourdais - $9,000

Long-Shot Values

Conor Daly - $8,800
Jack Hawksworth - $8,400
Spencer Pigot - $8,200

MY PICKS THIS WEEK

Lower-Risk Cash Game Lineup
($50K Salary Cap)

Will Power - $11,800
Simon Pagenaud - $11,500
Scott Dixon - $10,700
Sebastien Bourdais - $9,000
RC Enerson - $6,800

The lower-risk lineup option for Watkins Glen affords the two championship contenders as well as the last IndyCar winner at this week’s circuit. Power is closing in on teammate Pagenaud in the points with just two races remaining. He won at Watkins Glen the last time IndyCar was there, too. Pagenaud has yet to race the track, but with the circuit repave and a new chassis he should be on the same footing as the rest of his competition. Dixon has three Watkins Glen victories in his trophy cabinet, and this week should give him a good opportunity to make up for his struggle at Mid-Ohio two races ago. Bourdais is another driver who hasn’t raced at the Glen in IndyCar, but he’s one of the best on a natural-terrain road course and should be near the front of the field if the team can steer clear of the mistakes that have cost them recently. Finally, RC Enerson is a new name in the series after making his debut at Mid-Ohio a few weeks ago. He posted impressive practice times in that outing and should be expected to offer the same this weekend with just a little more experience than he had last time.

Higher-Risk Tournament Lineup
($50K Salary Cap)

Helio Castroneves - $11,200
Tony Kanaan - $10,900
Mikhail Aleshin - $9,800
James Hinchcliffe - $9,600
Spencer Pigot - $8,200

Castroneves has missed the spotlight shown on his teammates so far this season. He quietly sits fourth in the championship with two-runner up finishes so far in 2016. It is time for him to visit Victory Lane, and his experience at Watkins Glen could enable that. He started from pole at the track three times from 2005 to 2007 and finished fourth there in 2009. Tony Kanaan moved into third in the standings with his consistent top-10 finishes and offers more of the same this week. In his six starts at the Glen he only failed to finish 11th or better once. One driver who has often punched above his weight this season is Aleshin. Fantasy players should continue selecting him until that trend wanes, but with three finishes of sixth or better in the last five races that trend doesn’t appear to be ending soon. Hinchcliffe painted Watkins Glen as a virtually new facility in his comments earlier in the week, which could bode well for his chances. He narrowly missed a victory in Texas and is on a run of four consecutive top-10 finishes heading into this week’s race. Last but not least, we look to Pigot. The young talent has only contested eight races this season, but appears to be firmly up to speed. With two top-10 finishes in his last three races, he could very well be the bargain of the week.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. C.J. Radune plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: DraftKings: cjradune, RaceDayScore: cjradune.