Homestead-Miami Race Preview
By Jakob Barzak
NASCAR Writer for The Game Haus
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series moves on to Homestead-Miami Speedway for the
eighth race since NASCAR returned in May. The Dixie Vodka 400 will roll off Sunday at 3:30
pm on FOX.
On Wednesday, Martin Truex Jr. went back-to-back at Martinsville, winning the race in its
inaugural event under the lights. Truex dominated much of the late-race action while cruising to the win over second and third place finishers Ryan Blaney and Brad Keselowski. Truex picks up his first win on the season after a slow start to the season.
This week’s race will feature 267 laps around the mile and a half, multi-groove oval. Kyle Busch is the defending race winner. As last season’s final race, Kyle Busch took home the
championship his last time at the track. He is still searching for his first win on the season.
This race marks the first time that Homestead will not conclude the NASCAR season since 2001 when New Hampshire concluded the season. One concern entering the race is the heat of Miami in June. The past two races have seen drivers going to the infield care center due to heat exhaustion. With the race typically run in November, it should come as no surprise to see drivers needing care after a grueling 400 miles.
NASCAR held its random draw for starting positions on Thursday. Denny Hamlin drew the
coveted pole position and will roll off first on Sunday. Joey Logano will roll off on his outside in the second position.
Here is how the top 15 will roll off Sunday:
1. Denny Hamlin
2. Joey Logano
3. Brad Keselowski
4. Kyle Busch
5. Chase Elliott
6. Martin Truex Jr.
7. Kevin Harvick
8. Alex Bowman
9. Jimmie Johnson
10. Kurt Busch
11. Ryan Blaney
12. Clint Bowyer
13. Chris Buescher
14. Ryan Newman
15. Erik Jones
It will be difficult to predict who will run well this weekend given that this is the first time in
many years the race will be run in June. Also, given that this race is typically the championship race, the cars these drivers bring to the track vary greatly. In a typical championship race, the
teams will dedicate all of their resources to the cars that remain in championship contention. This leads to a wide disparity between championship contenders and the rest of the field. With this element out of the way, it is likely that new drivers will rise to the top. Here are some of the favorites to park it in victory lane this weekend.
Kyle Busch : In his last five races at Miami, Busch has four top-fives and two wins. As I
mentioned, this may be due to the fact the Busch has raced for the championship every time
since the newest playoff format was introduced. As the defending race winner, he has something to prove. Additionally, he is still looking for his first win of the season. This comes as a surprise for the defending champion. Despite his early-season struggles, I would expect to see him running up front during most of the race.
Kevin Harvick : As the current series leader in points, Harvick has looked strong for the
entire season. Additionally, he has the highest average finish at Miami amongst drivers who will race on Sunday. He has an impressive 6.42 average finish through 19 career races at the mile and a half track. He also boasts 11 top-fives and 17 top-tens in those starts. I would expect him to be a contender to win the race.
Ryan Blaney : The final driver I think has a strong shot to grab the race win on Sunday is
Team Penske driver Ryan Blaney. He has arguably been the hottest driver in the series as of late with four top-fives in the last five races. The only race he didn’t finish in the top-five was at Bristol where he spun out while running second. Although Homestead has not been Blaney’s best track on the circuit, he has never been a championship contender. Now that he is on a level playing field with the rest of his competitors, Blaney could run strong this weekend.