This weekend, NASCAR is heading to Homestead! For years champions were crowned here in winner take all events, now its race #3, but that doesn’t mean the intensity won’t be high. Playoff aspirations are on the line, and some drivers already have big points deficits following Daytona and the Daytona Road Course. After the wildness of the last two races, many view Homestead as the start of the “Real Season.”
Homestead is a unique symmetrical 1.5 mile track. Tire wear is extreme and every pit stop teams will be taking four tires, some might even do it backwards (joke). There’s one certainty at Homestead though, the best of the best always rise to the occasion and finish up front.
Here’s the Starting Lineup For Homestead. Historically, Homestead has been won from a driver who starts near the front with 7 of the last 8 races won from a top five starting position. Last year Homestead was won from the pole, but only three drivers who started in the top ten finished in the top ten. Half the top ten finishers didn’t even start in the top 15.
Final Top 25 Rankings For Homestead (and content on all 38!)
1) Chase Elliott (Starting – 11th)
Homestead Fantasy Spin – Defending series champion, Chase Elliott will be a contender to win at Homestead. Elliott came close to victory lane last summer, and in many of the recent Homestead races he’s performed at a high-level. One key attribute I like about Elliott is that the #9 team is fast. My favorite speed metric is Total Speed Rankings, and last year Elliott ranked as the Fastest Driver At High Tire Wear Tracks and the 2nd Fastest Driver At 1.5 mile tracks. Last year at high-tire wear tracks, Elliott was extremely impressive. If Elliott wasn’t wrecked while running in 2nd at Darlington #2 and wrecked while leading in Darlington #3, then Elliott’s average finish at worn out ovals would’ve been an impressive 3.5. On Sunday, look for Elliott to be a top five contender who’ll be a factor to win.
Homestead Track History – Chase Elliott has performed at a high-level at Homestead and in 3 of the last 4 races he’s finished in the top 7. Last year, Elliott had his best Homestead performance and was a contender to win. In the race he finished 4th in Stage #1, 3rd in Stage #2, 2nd overall, led 27 laps and had a 3.5 average running position. In terms of Total Speed Rankings, Elliott was tied for the 3rd best and ranked in the top five across the 4 segments (4,5,1 and 4). When it came to long run speed which is key at high-tire wear tracks, Elliott ranked as the 4th best. I’ll note, Elliott was held up by a lapped Logano while leading with about 30 laps to go, but I don’t think that cost him the win. He only cycled to the lead because he pitted before Hamlin and the #11 car was reeling him in at the time anyways. In 2019, Elliott had a forgettable afternoon. When the race reached its conclusion he finished 15th and had a 15.9 average running position. I’m just going to view it as his team mailing in that performance so they could hit the beach sooner. In 2018, Elliott finished 7th and had a 12th place average running position. In 2017, Elliott was more competitive. In that race he finished 5th, earned the 7th best driver rating, had a 9th place average running position, finished 6th in Stage #1 and 9th in Stage #2.
DraftKings $11,000 / FanDuel $13,000
2) Kevin Harvick (Starting – 4th)
Homestead Fantasy Spin – Kevin Harvick is an elite performer at Homestead who should be on your short list of favorites. Homestead ranks among Harvick’s best tracks, and since 2008 he’s only once finished outside the top ten. His lone result outside the top ten happened last summer, but don’t let that scare you away because his race wasn’t incident free. In the six Homestead races prior to 2020, Harvick finished in the top 4 every race, had a 3.5 average finish, a 3.5 average running position and had the best driver rating. Last year at high-tire wear tracks, Harvick won 3 races and minus Homestead where he had a misleading result his average finish was 3rd. On Sunday, look for Harvick to be a top five contender.
Homestead Track History – Kevin Harvick is a strong performer at Homestead. Last year, Harvick had a dismal race and finished 26th, but don’t read into that result. In the race he had contact on pit road around lap 35 which damaged the nose of the #4, and then later with about 60 laps to go he had a flat tire and got into the wall which led to an unexpected pit stop (dropped him 2 laps down). After Harvick’s first problem he bounced back and looked like a low double-digit performer who spent a little bit of time in the top ten. In terms of Total Speed Rankings, Harvick ranked as the 16th best and in the first three segments prior to his final problem he ranked 11th, 8th and 15th. In the last segment he was 28th after getting into the wall. In the 2019 season finale, Harvick had a strong showing. He finished 4th, had a 4th place average running position, earned the 3rd best driver rating and led 41 laps. Additionally, Harvick finished 4th in Stage #1 and 2nd in Stage #2. In terms of Speed Analytics, Harvick had the 5th best Green Flag Average Speed and ranked as the 6th Fastest Driver Late In A Run. Harvick’s car was setup to be at its best early in a run, and in that statistic he ranked as the 2nd best. In 2018, Harvick had a great car that was arguably the best, but a late caution likely cost him the race. He was going to cycle to the lead following the late pit cycle, but because of how the caution fell it dropped him back to 4th. When the checkered flag waved he finished 3rd, had a 3rd place average running position, earned the 2nd best driver rating and led 58 laps. Additionally, he won Stage #1 and finished 2nd in Stage #2 (Kyle Larson passed him on the last lap). In the four Homestead races prior to that, Harvick had results of 4th, 3rd, 2nd and 1st.
DraftKings $10,100 / FanDuel $14,000