The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series competes at Homestead-Miami Speedway this week. This is it. The final race of the season is finally here. Who will win the first ever MENCS trophy? This could be the strongest field of four NASCAR has ever seen. It will be fun watching the four drivers battle it out. The race can be seen Sunday at 2:30 pm ET on NBC.
Despite being low on allocations with many of the top drivers, I was able to post a good score at Phoenix. My picks scored 303 points and moved me into the top 98%. I have one more race to get into the top 99% for the 7th consecutive season and 9 out of the last 10 seasons. I currently have 9,963 points. I need another 300+ week in order to get to the top.
Here are my picks for Homestead…
It is not hard to pick your team this week. Use the best drivers you have because there is no reason to save allocations now. The four drivers (Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski) competing for the championship should be racing up front. It is funny to see how much room the other drivers give the final four on the track.
Motivation plays an important part in this race. Some drivers just want to get the race complete so they can start their offseason. Some drivers still have something to prove. I like to select drivers who are in their last race with their current teams (Erik Jones, Kasey Kahne, Ryan Blaney, Kurt Busch, Danica Partick, Paul Menard and Michael McDowell to name a few). These drivers should be motivated to finish up front in their final race with their teams.
Yahoo Group A Picks
Kevin Harvick (4) was my pick to win the 2017 MENCS Championship in my Preseason Driver Rankings article and I am not changing my pick now. Harvick has been awesome on the 1.5-mile tracks since the playoffs began. He led 59 laps and finished 3rd at Chicago, led a series-high 149 laps and finished 3rd at Charlotte, led 37 laps and finished 8th at Kansas and he led 38 laps and won at Texas. The way the No. 4 car ran down Martin Truex Jr. at Texas was incredible. No one has been close to catching the No. 78 car this season. Harvick said he has his “game face on now and will not let anything get in his way of the championship.” If Harvick looks fast in practice I will most likely use him in the race. I am sure everyone with an allocation left with Martin Truex Jr. will use the No. 78 car. I want to be different so I can pass these teams in the standings.
Martin Truex Jr. (1) should be the favorite to win Sunday. He has dominated the 1.5-mile tracks like we have not seen before. Truex has won 6 times on the intermediate tracks, including 3 of the 4 (Chicago, Charlotte and Kansas) in the playoffs. Truex would be my pick to win if this race was held at any other 1.5-mile track. Homestead is the second worst track for the No. 78 team. Truex has not finished in the top 10 at Homestead since 2013. The team said they feel really confident after the test at the track in late October. I would not worry too much about past performance. I cannot believe I may end the season with 1 allocation left with the No. 78 car.
* I am out of allocations with Kyle Busch. I like Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. over Busch so his allocation does not factor into my decision this week.
Group A Driver Rankings: 1) Kevin Harvick 2) Martin Truex Jr., 3) Kyle Busch, 4) Brad Keselowski, 5) Denny Hamlin, 6) Matt Kenseth, 7) Joey Logano., 8) Jimmie Johnson, 9) Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Here are my allocations left with the drivers in Group A: Kyle Busch (0), Martin Truex Jr. (1), Brad Keselowski (2), Kevin Harvick (4), Joey Logano (6), Denny Hamlin (7), Jimmie Johnson (8), Matt Kenseth (9), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (9)
Yahoo Group B Picks
Kyle Larson (1) is really hard to count on right now. He has four DNFs in a row. He is on my team because he is the best driver in the field at turning fast laps at Homestead. The fastest way around the track is to run the top. No one does it better then Larson. He led 132 and finished 2nd in this race last year. I doubt this team will completely give up since they know they can win this race. I expect Larson to roll off the truck with the most speed Friday, qualify up front and lead many laps in the race. I held onto him for this long so I will use him in the race and hope for the best.
Clint Bowyer (1) had a good race at Phoenix. He ran in the top 10 for most of the race and showed signs that this team has not given up on the 2017 season. Bowyer wants to win a race with his new team. I doubt it will happen Sunday but I expect the No. 14 team to give it their best shot. The Stewart-Haas Racing Fords have really picked up their speed on the 1.5-mile tracks since the playoffs began. I expect a good run from Bowyer in the last race of the season.
Kasey Kahne (7) is in his last race with the No. 5 team. I am hoping the team shows up Friday ready to finish up front in their final race. I usually have a hard time trusting Kahne but the addition of Darian Grubb on top the pit-box has really helped. Kahne finished 9th at Charlotte, 15th at Kansas and 11th at Texas. I do not plan on using him this week but if I do he should finish in the top 15 Sunday.
Austin Dillon (4) will be the last pick for my team because I do not have much to choose from. My choices for this pick came down to Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ryan Newman and Dillon. I decided to go with Dillon because he has been the best of the three drivers on the 1.5-mile tracks in the playoffs. Dillon finished 16th at Chicago and Charlotte, 14th at Kansas and 13th at Texas. He should easily finish in the top 15 this week if I need to use him.
* I am out of allocations with Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney, Jamie McMurray and Kurt Busch. I would use all of these drivers over Clint Bowyer, Kasey Kahne and Austin Dillon if I could.
Group B Driver Rankings: 1) Chase Elliott, 2) Kyle Larson, 3) Jamie McMurray 4) Ryan Blaney 5) Kurt Busch, 6) Clint Bowyer, 7) Austin Dillon, 8) Kasey Kahne 9) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., 10) Ryan Newman
Here are the allocations I have left in Group B: Ryan Blaney (0), Kurt Busch (0), Jamie McMurray (0), Kyle Larson (1), Chase Elliott (0), Clint Bowyer (1), Austin Dillon (4), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (5), Ryan Newman (4), AJ Allmendinger (4), Kasey Kahne (7) and all the rest 9.
Yahoo Group C Picks
Michael McDowell (1) is my pick for Group C because I am out of allocations with Erik Jones and Daniel Suarez. McDowell is in his last race with the No. 95 team and he does not have a ride for the 2018 season. He should be motivated to perform well Sunday in order to impress one of the owners. McDowell had one of his best races of his career at Homestead last year. He qualified 26th and finished in the top 10. I need some luck this week so I am hoping the No. 95 team can find the magic they had in 2016 at Homestead.
Ty Dillon (1) should have been my pick last week at Phoenix. He had a great race. I am hoping the No. 13 team can build upon their momentum from last week and finish the season strong. This will be the last race for Bootie Barker on top the No. 13 pit box. Do it for Bootie should be the rallying cry this week. I do not expect Dillon to qualify well, but he should finish inside the top 20 Sunday.
* I am out of allocations with Daniel Suarez and Erik Jones. I would use both of these drivers over Michael McDowell and Ty Dillon if I could.
Group C Driver Rankings: 1) Erik Jones, 2) Daniel Suarez, 3) Ty Dillon, 4) Michael McDowell, 5) Landon Cassill, 6) David Ragan
Here are the allocations I have left in Group C: Daniel Suarez (0), Erik Jones (0), Ty Dillon (1), Michael McDowell (1), David Ragan (8) and the rest with 9 allocations.
Yahoo Fantasy Auto Racing Team
Group A: Kevin Harvick (2), Martin Truex Jr. (1)
Group B: Kyle Larson (1), Clint Bowyer (1), Kasey Kahne (7), Austin Dillon (4)
Group C: Michael McDowell (1), Ty Dillon (1)
I will post my final picks for Yahoo Fantasy Auto Racing after final practice Sunday.
If you need any further advice with your team, look for me on Twitter @MrFantasyNASCAR
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