Kevin Harvick – Kevin Harvick is a super-elite performer at Homestead who’ll be the driver to beat. At Homestead he’s performed at an exceptionally high level, and he’s been remarkably consistent. He has 10 straight top tens and since 2003 he’s only finished outside the top ten once. In the #4 car at Homestead he’s performed at a super-elite level. Over the last four races he has the best driver rating, the best average finish (2.5) and the best average running position (3.5). Last year he had a strong showing. He finished 4th, had 4th place average running position and earned the 4th best driver rating. Additionally, he finished 4th in Stage #1 and 3rd in Stage #2. With 75 laps to go it was mentioned he had a small hole on his front bumper which was negatively impacting his performance. In 2016, Harvick had a great car and was a consistent front runner. He started on the pole, finished 3rd, had a 3rd place average running position, earned the 2nd best driver rating and led the second most laps (79). In 2015 he had a very strong showing and finished runner-up. Additionally, he had a 4th place average running position, earned the 4th best driver rating and led 46 laps. In 2014 he had a clutch performance and raced his way to the championship. In the race he earned the 2nd best driver rating, had a 3rd place average running position and led 54 laps. This year at 1.5 mile tracks nobody has been better. At these venues minus Charlotte and Las Vegas #2 he has 4 wins, a 3.3 average finish and a 3.9 average running position.
Kyle Busch – Kyle Busch is a recent winner at Homestead who’ll be tough to beat. In 5 of the last 6 Homestead races he’s finished in the top 7. Over this stretch minus 2014 he has a 4.0 average finish and a 4.0 average running position. Last year, Busch had a great car. He finished 2nd, earned the 3rd best driver rating, had a 4th place average running position and led 43 laps. Additionally, he finished 3rd in Stage #1 and 4th in Stage #2. In 2016, he finished 6th, had a 5th place average running position and earned the 4th best driver rating. What makes that more impressive he that he overcame an unexpected pit stop for a flat tire while running in 5th on lap 137 that dropped him a lap down. It should be noted until late cautions started coming out he was running in 2nd and was poised to win the championship. In 2015, Busch had a great car and raced his way to victory lane. It should be noted however that if there wasn’t a late caution and Brad Keselowski didn’t pick the wrong lane to restart in then he likely wouldn’t have won. Performance wise he was really 3rd place good. In addition to finishing first he earned the best driver rating, had a 2nd place average running position and led 41 laps. On Sunday I would look for Busch to finish in the top five and be a serious threat to win.
Kyle Larson – Kyle Larson isn’t competing for the championship, but he’ll be a favorite to win. Homestead really fits his driving style and no driver is better then him at running the top groove. Larson has already said that he plans on winning this race and I think he has a great chance to accomplish that objective. At Homestead his level of performance has been extremely high and he currently has three straight top 5’s. In the last two races at Homestead nobody has been better him and he’s done everything but win. Over the last two combined races he has the best driver rating, the best average finish (2.5), he’s tied for the best average running position (3.5) and he’s led the most laps. Last year, he had a phenomenal performance, but when it was closing time he wasn’t at his best. In the race he won Stage #1, won Stage #2, led the most laps (145), had a 2nd place average running position and finished 3rd. In 2016 he was the class of the field but a late caution took away a certain victory. When the checkered flag waved he earned the best driver rating, led the most laps (132) and finished 2nd. At some points in the race he had the fastest car by quite a bit. In 2015 he had a great car and at the end he had the fastest car on the track and was reeling in Keselowski who was leading. If there wasn’t a late caution then he might’ve been able to win. When the race reached its conclusion he finished 5th, earned the 5th best driver rating and had a 7th place average running position. This year at 1.5 mile tracks he’s been extremely strong. At these venues minus Texas #1 he has a 4.9 average result and has finished in the top ten every race. In the Playoffs at these tracks he’s a perfect 3 for 3 in terms of finishing in the top five.