The NASCAR Cup Series will travel to southern Florida this week for the Dixie Vodka 400. The track is going to be much warmer that it was last November but there should still be a lot of information from that race that will translate into speed Sunday. Here are my race notes from the last race at Homestead Miami Speedway…
Homestead: 2019 Ford EcoBoost 400 Notes
– The Track: The trend at Homestead is for the four drivers who are competing for the championship to completely dominate the race. That was the case last year with Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick leading 266 of the 267 laps. It should be different this year since we will not see drivers “pullover” to give the top drivers all the room they need to get to the front.
Qualifying was rained out so that means the starting lineup was set by the owner’s points. This allowed the four drivers who were competing for the championship to start in the top-four positions. These drivers had the track position they needed and the rest of the field did not provide much competition for them.
– The 10 drivers who looked the best in the race: Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney, Clint Bowyer, Erik Jones, Austin Dillon and Jimmie Johnson
Stage / Race Results
|Stage 1||Stage 2||
|1. Martin Truex Jr.||1. Kyle Busch||1. Kyle Busch|
|2. Kyle Larson||2. Kevin Harvick||2. Martin Truex Jr.|
|3. Kyle Busch||3. Kyle Larson||3. Erik Jones|
|4. Kevin Harvick||4. Martin Truex Jr.||4. Kevin Harvick|
|5. Denny Hamlin||5. Denny Hamlin||5. Joey Logano|
|6. Ryan Blaney||6. Ryan Blaney||6. Clint Bowyer|
|7. Clint Bowyer||7. Joey Logano||7. Ryan Newman|
|8. William Byron||8. Erik Jones||8. Austin Dillon|
|9. Jimmie Johnson||9. Jimmie Johnson||9. Alex Bowman|
|10. Austin Dillon||10. Clint Bowyer||10. Denny Hamlin|
– Martin Truex Jr. started 2nd and he dominated most of the race. The No. 19 car led 103 laps (2nd most), won Stage 1 and finished 4th in Stage 2. He had a 3.24 average running position (2nd best) but his race was lost in the pits. The team put the left-side tires on the right-side of the car and the rights on the left-side. Truex had to return to the pits and this gave the race to Kyle Busch. Truex has finished 2nd, 2nd and 1st in his last 3 races at Homestead.
– Kyle Busch entered the Championship race last year with a 21 race win drought. You should never bet against Rowdy. He finished 1st, 4th, 2nd, 6th and 1st in his last 5 races at Homestead. Busch started 4th, led a race-high 120 laps, finished 3rd in Stage 1 and won Stage 2. Busch went onto to Victory Lane and won his 2nd NASCAR Cup Series Championship.
– Denny Hamlin entered the race at Homestead with a lot of momentum. His stats at Homestead were not as good as the 3 drivers he was competing with for the championship though. Hamlin finished 10th, 12th, 9th, 9th and 10th in his last 5 races at Homestead. Hamlin started on the pole but was only able to lead 2 laps. He finished 5th in both Stages but an engine problem in the final Stage put the No. 11 car a lap down. Hamlin finished 10th.
– Erik Jones might have felt like the black sheep of the Joe Gibbs Racing team since he was the only driver from the organization not competing for the championship. Jones spent most of his time in practice working on setups for his teammates. They must have found something because Jones was fast. He started 16th and slowly made his way to the front. Jones finished 8th in Stage 2 and then his car came to life when the sun went down. Jones finished the race in the 3rd position.
– Brad Keselowski has not been as good at Homestead as he has been at other tracks. Keselowski entered the race with a 16.25 average finishing position in his last 4 races at the track. It was another poor performance for the No. 2 team last year. Keselowski started 8th, had a 16.81 average running position (18th best) and finished the race in the 18th position. It looked like he was just out there logging laps.
– Joey Logano has been one of the most consistent drivers at Homestead. He has finished 5th, 1st, 6th, 4th and 4th in his last 5 races at this track. Logano was not competing for the championship but he had the best non-playoff car. Logano started 5th and finished 5th. His 8.4 average running position in the race was 7th best.
– Ryan Blaney entered the race as one of the best drivers on the 1.5-mile tracks last year but Homestead is one of his worst tracks. Blaney has never finished in the top 10 at the track but he did show some speed last year. Blaney started 7th and he was able to finish 6th in both Stage. The car lost some speed at the end of the race and Blaney finished 11th.
– Kevin Harvick was the only non-Joe Gibbs Racing driver competing for the championship. He started 2nd and took the early lead in the race. Harvick led 41 laps (3rd most), finished 4th in Stage 1 and 2nd in Stage 2. He was the first driver to move to the top of the racetrack. Harvick had a 4.01 average running position (3rd best) but could not run down Kyle Busch at the end of the race. The No. 4 car finished 4th.
– Clint Bowyer is one of the more underrated drivers at Homestead. The track ranks as his 4th-best track and he was good again in 2019. Bowyer started 10th and had an 8.11 average running position (6th best). He finished 7th in Stage 1 and 10th in Stage 2. The No. 14 car came home in the 6th position.
– Aric Almirola has not had the same success as his teammates (Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer) at Homestead. The Florida native spent most of his time in practice working on setups for the No. 4 car. Almirola started 14th and he had a hard time running inside the top 15. The No. 10 car did not score any Stage points and finished in the 22nd position.
– Chase Elliott had a lot of bad luck in the playoffs last year and the team said before the race that they simply wanted to get through the race at Homestead and start working on their cars for the 2020 season. Elliott raced like he just wanted the race to end. He started 1th, did not score any Stage points and finished 15th. He should be a lot better this year since the No. 9 team should be more focused.
– William Byron and Chad Knaus said before the race that they wanted to end the season with some momentum for the offseason. They did not get it. Byron looked fast in practice and he quickly moved up from his 9th qualifying spot. He finished 8th in Stage 1 but his engine blew up on lap 215. Byron finished 39th.
– Alex Bowman was at his best on the 1.5-mile tracks last year and he had a decent race in the Ford EcoBoost 400 last year. Bowman started 12th and his car was too tight during the sunlight. Greg Ives told him to “hang onto it. The car will come to us when the sun goes down.” He was right. Bowman slowly picked up spots at the end of the race and finished in the 9th position.
– Jimmie Johnson missed the playoffs last year so he set his goal to win a race in the playoffs. Homestead was his final chance and the No. 48 car was good but not fast enough to compete with the playoff drivers. Johnson qualified 18th and he had one of the best cars in the sunlight. He went to the front and finished both Stages in the 9th spot. His car fell off as the sun went down and Johnson finished 13th.
– Kurt Busch tried to run the top of the track like his teammate (Kyle Larson) in practice and he practice time were very good. Busch tried to make some speed at the top of the track in the race but he was nowhere near as good as Larson. Busch scraped the wall and lost a lot of speed. The No. 1 car started 13th and finished 21st (Busch lost 8 place differential points. Not good).
– Ryan Newman has been decent at Homestead in his career. He usually scores positive place differential points and that adds to his fantasy value at the track. Newman qualified 15th and had a 13.55 average running position (12th best). He picked up some spots at the end of the race and finished 7th and scored 8 place differential points for fantasy teams.
– Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was the only non-championship four driver to lead a lap in the race last year. He stayed out while the rest of the field pitted and it allowed the No. 17 car to lead a few laps. He was quickly passed when the green flag was waiver and fell through the field. Stenhouse did not score any Stage points and he finished 23rd in the race.
– Chris Buescher had a habit of qualifying poorly and racing well last year. The trend continued in the final race last year. Buescher started 20th, had an 18.86 average running position (18th best) and picked up some spots in the final laps of the race. Buescher finished 16th and scored 4 place differential points.
– Austin Dillon is a sneaky good driver at Homestead. He has finished 8th, 11th, 11th and 12th in his last 4 races at the track. The track ranks as his best track on the schedule. Dillon had another good race last year. The No. 3 car started 22nd and quickly went to the front. Dillon finished 10th in Stage 1 and 8th in the race. Homestead is not a bad track to take a chance with Dillon in your fantasy lineups.
Follow me on Twitter @MrFantasyNASCAR