Another dramatic race is in the books as we head to championship weekend. Congratulations to Matt Kenseth on winning his first race of the season in what might be his last season in the sport. Chase Elliott came oh so close once again and almost made the championship race in his rookie season. Denny Hamlin has nothing to complain about with the way Chase raced him on Sunday. Hamlin did the same exact thing to Chase at Martinsville and he got back what he dished out first.
FORD ECOBOOST 400
So, we head to Homestead-Miami Speedway, where Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, and Brad Keselowski will fight for a championship. This is another of the mile-and-a-half tracks on the circuit and is very similar to the Las Vegas Speedway with its variable banking in the corners. This is going to be another fun race to watch no matter if your favorite driver is in contention or not. Hopefully none of the contenders have mechanical issues that take them out of this race and we all get to see great racing to the checkered flag and the crowning of this year’s champion.
Martin Truex Jr.: Martin has to be the odds on favorite to win the championship this season because of the way he has run on these mile-and-a-half tracks. He has won six races on these tracks this year including the race at Las Vegas. That doesn’t mean no one else has a chance this weekend. It just means none of the other contenders can make any mistakes is they want to beat Martin. On the other hand, Martin hasn’t had a top ten finish here the last three years, but he does have seven top ten finishes in his twelve career starts at this track.
Kevin Harvick: I didn’t think Kevin could do it this year as the team seemed to have lost some speed on this type of track. That is until he won the race at Texas a couple of weeks ago. Now I think he has a better shot than Kyle Busch to win the second championship of his career. He is probably the most consistent driver here with eight top five and fourteen top ten finishes in sixteen starts. I think it is going to come down to Kevin and Martin this week.
Kyle Busch: Let’s not count out Kyle. He has four top ten finishes in his last five races here including his win two years ago for his first championship. That tells you this guy knows how to get around this track too. The question for this team seems to be if they can make the right adjustments to the car with the changing track conditions and if they can avoid costly mistakes on pit road. Kyle also needs to have a little patience early in the race so he can stay in the hunt towards the end.
Brad Keselowski: Right now I give Brad the smallest chance to pull this off. He and teammate Joey Logano just haven’t shown they have the speed it takes to win races on the intermediate tracks towards the end of this season. However, if you look at what Ryan Blaney has done this season, he has shown that there is speed in these engines on these tracks and Ryan runs the same engine as the Penske teams as they have formed an alliance together this year. And, Brad has finished in the top six in three of his last four races and started in the top five in five of his last six starts here.
Chase Elliott: I still think Chase has a shot to win a race this year, and that means he has to win this weekend. This team has come so close so many times and when they do win their first race they might go on a tear. Chase finished eleventh in his only start at this track last year and would love nothing more than to win in his final race of the season and build up some momentum and confidence for next season.
Kyle Larson: Four straight DNF’s doesn’t look very good for this team as the season comes to a close. He had one of the fastest cars at Phoenix once again last weekend and then he lost another engine less than halfway through that race. Still, if you have a start left with him don’t be afraid to use it. Kyle has finished in the top five in his last two starts including a runner-up finish here last year. Maybe they are doing some engine testing for next year, but you can’t really worry about that if he is one of your best choices you have left.
Denny Hamlin: Denny’s season isn’t going to end the way he was hoping it would, but he could still win another race and think about what might have been. He has two career wins at this track and has finished in the top ten in his last four starts here. This team has really come on at the right time this year and all he needed to do was let Chase get by him last weekend and he would be in the championship. But, at the time he thought Chase might win the race if he let him by and then he would have been out anyway.
Matt Kenseth: If Matt can win back to back races at the end of this year he might not take a hiatus from the sport next year. I’m sure if he wins another race someone with a top tier team is going to try and sign him to a contract as he is still one of the most consistent drivers on the circuit. Matt has one win and nine top ten finishes in his seventeen starts at this track and will run this race like it is the last of his career.
Ryan Blaney: Ryan just didn’t have a car with long run potential last weekend at Phoenix which is what he would have needed to win that race and get himself into the championship. However, as I stated before, Ryan has been fast on the intermediate tracks all season and this is another of those places where he should be able to run towards the front for most of the race. He hasn’t run the best here in his first two starts, but he is getting better and so is this team. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him come away with another top five finish on the year.
YAHOO! FANTASY NASCAR PICKS FOR HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY
Yahoo Driver Group A
- Martin Truex Jr.
- Kevin Harvick
Yahoo Driver Group B
- Chase Elliott
- Ryan Blaney
- Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
- Jamie McMurray
Yahoo Driver Group C
- Ty Dillon
- Michael McDowell
MY TOP-5 OVERALL AT HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY
- Martin Truex Jr.
- Kevin Harvick
- Kyle Busch
- Denny Hamlin
- Chase Elliott
Dark Horse: Ryan Blaney
Stay Away From: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Big 18: Daniel Suarez