Let’s take a look at Homestead under the microscope. This edition will include stats, past winners, hot streak driver (last 5 races) similar track stats (speedway) like who’s hot, manufacturer leaders, records, and much more! No matter if you are a Fantasy League player or just want to know the ins and outs at Homestead, you can get a full dose right here. You won’t leave the table wanting more!

It was this time last year that Jimmie Johnson was in the same position, on the verge of winning it all. Last year, he started on the pole, and needed to finish 18th or better. After leading the first lap, he only needed 19th. After he grabbed those bonus points, Johnson settled in to conservative mode and spent most of the day lingering in the top 10 and staying out of trouble.

Matt Kenseth would soon make his way to the front by lap 4 and would control the lead until the first caution. Kenseth was a dominating force during the day and eventually under the lights. The last cyle of pit stops were made with about 19 laps to go, and Kenseth had a sizeable lead over Martin Truex Jr.

Tony Stewart would lose control of his car with 14 laps remaining and slammed his Chevy into the wall. After this caution, there were only 9 laps to go, that would bunch them up just one more time, but again, Kenseth would get a solid restart and would cruise to victory with Kurt Busch following. It was a nice going-away present for long-time crew chief Robbie Reiser who was leaving to become the General Manager of Roush-Fenway Racing.

Dale Jr’s last race with DEI was not a great one, when he misjudged his speed coming into the pits, then he slid into the grass and was spun around by Kyle Busch when he pulled back onto the track. On a later restart, Jeff Burton hit Jr’s #8 from behind, sending it to the outside wall on the front straight.

In the end, Johnson walked away with the Championship. Matt’s victory was short lived since all eyes were on Johnson. This is starting to look like a re-run that we keep sitting through! Well, tune in and turn it to Ch 48 for the Jimmie-Jo show one more time.

About The Track:
1.5 mile tri-oval
Asphalt surface
Redesigned in 2003
Front stretch 1,760 ft long
Back stretch 1,760 ft long
Straight Banking – 4 degrees
Corner Banking – 18-20 degrees
Race Length – 267 laps or 400.5 miles
Estimated Pit Window – 50-55 laps (based on fuel mileage)
After this track was redesigned, cars were able to get 20-25 mph more than they did before.

Qualifying At Homestead:
It is very important to get a good starting position here. Only two drivers have ever won, that started outside the top 10. Greg Biffle did it from a 22nd starting position in 2006 and Tony Stewart did it from 13th in a PONTIAC folks! The remaining races here were won from a 7th starting spot or better. The average starting position for winners are 6.55 and the average finish for a pole winner is 6.77. In making your picks, lets go ahead and put it on the table now, qualifying would be a great tool for making your final decision. Statistically speaking, you should go with the top 15.

Manufacturers:
Fords are dominant. Out of 9 races, they have 5 victories.
Greg Biffle = 3
Matt Kenseth = 1
Kurt Busch = 1

Key Factors Of The Race:
Like all short tracks, staying on the lead lap will be key. It’s easy to get lapped, and more so if you have to make a green flag pit stop. Last year, 16 cars finished on the lead lap. There were 7 cautions(27 laps) and there were as many as 25 lead changes during the race. The year before had 20 cars on the lead lap at the finish with 11 caution flags (38 laps) and 15 lead changes. Crews will have their hands full trying to dial their cars in to handle the the varied degrees of banking in the corners and multiple grooves. We should see three different grooves taken with some side by side action in this one. Homestead used to be a flat oval with only about 6 degrees of banking in the corners, but now they have put in some progressive banking that resembles the grade you’ll find at Michigan, Chicago or Kansas. Progressive banking means the track gains more banking as you go from the bottom to the top. We don’t race on any other track that has progressive banking in the NASCAR Cup series. The Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway, which played host to the Toyota All-Star Showdown late in 2003, has it. The idea is to promote side-by-side racing. Instead of drivers just taking the bottom groove, a second groove is possible.

Records:
Qualifying Record (New Layout) – Jamie McMurray 176.788 (2003)
Qualifying Record (Old Layout) – Steve Park 156.440 (2000)

Race Record (New Layout) – Bobby Labonte 116.868 (2003)
Race Record (Old Layout) – Tony Stewart 140.335 (1999)

Most Wins – Greg Biffle 3
Most Poles – Kurt Busch 2
Most Top 5’s – Mark Martin 4
Most Top 10’s – Jeff Gordon 7
Most Cautions – 14 (11/21/2004)
Most Caution Laps – 79 (11/21/2004)
Fewest Cautions – 1 (11/14/1999)
Fewest Caution Laps – 5 (11/14/1999)
Worst Starting Position To Win – 13th Tony Stewart (2000)
Most Lead Changes – 25 (11/18/2007)
Most Leaders – 12 (11/20/2005)
Fewest Lead Changes – 12 (11/17/2002)
Fewest Leaders – 6 (11/17/2002)
Most Laps Led By Race Winner – 166 Tony Stewart (11/12/2000)
Fewest Laps Led By Race Winner – 1 Bobby Labonte (11/16/2003)
Most Wins By Manufacturer – 5 Ford

Top 10 @ Homestead:

Loop Data – Last 3 Races – Homestead (Top 10):
(Ranked in order of driver ratings)

Who’s Hot?
(Top 15 Averages For Last 5 Regular Season Races):

Jimmie Johnson – 5.0
Carl Edwards – 8.4
Greg Biffle – 9.0
Denny Hamlin – 9.2
Kevin Harvick – 9.4
Kyle Busch – 10.4
David Ragan – 10.4
Jamie McMurray – 11.2
Clint Bowyer – 11.4
Jeff Burton – 11.6
Jeff Gordon – 12.8
Dale Jr. – 15.0
Matt Kenseth – 15.4
Kurt Busch – 17.6
Martin Truex Jr. – 18.0

Top 15 Speedway Averages:

Jimmie Johnson – 10.3
Carl Edwards – 11.4
Jeff Gordon – 11.8
Tony Stewart – 12.6
Mark Martin – 12.7
Jeff Burton – 13.5
Denny Hamlin – 14.0
Matt Kenseth – 14.0
Bobby Labonte – 15.9
Greg Biffle – 16.0
Kevin Harvick – 16.0
Clint Bowyer – 16.9
Dale Jr. – 17.0
Kyle Busch – 17.0
Martin Trux Jr. – 17.4

Drivers To Watch:
Greg Biffle – Winning the last 3 of 4 here, he is a must have for your list. Last three races here – 1st, 1st & 13th

Carl Edwards – He knows its time to go or go home, so look for him to be aggressive in this event. He has the best finishing average at this track over the past 5 times there at 7.75, so look for him to be in the top 5. Last three races here – 4th, 8th & 5th.

Matt Kenseth – This team seems to have recently found something that works here. In the last 3 races, with an AMAZING 3.33 finishing average. You can’t go wrong with another Roush driver. Last three races here – 3rd, 6th & 1st.

Jeff Gordon – I know, I know, you would’ve thought he slapped “Lady Luck” in the face cause he has had problem after problem this year. This is his last chance to get a win in 2008 but I don’t look for it to happen. Gordon does however do well at this track. He has 3 top 5’s and 4 top 10’s in the last five races here. He has finished as bad as 24th, but I expect a top 5 finish this week. Last three races here – 9th, 24th & 4th.

Denny Hamlin – He has only experienced 3 races here, but two of them resulted in top 5’s. His average finish is 13th. Last three races here – 33rd, 3rd & 3rd.

Martin Truex Jr. – Like Jeff Gordon, Truex Jr. has not had the best of luck lately. He has only been here three times, but has shown that he can rise to the top grabbing a top 5 and two top 10’s. Last three races here – 32nd, 2nd & 6th.

Jimmie Johnson – I don’t want to risk picking Johnson as my winner, for I feel they won’t be near as aggressive as the Roush drivers that dominate this track. I just put myself in their position, why risk getting caught up in a side by side battle that could take you out when all you need is 36th or better? I look for the #48 team to the most conservative that they have been all year. Last 5 visits here produced only 1 top and 4 top 10’s. Now with that said, put them in your top 15. Last three races here – 40th, 9th & 7th.

Jeff Burton – He don’t have a handle on this track, but I am going on the momentum factor. His top 10 finishes since the Chase started and his 8th place finish here last year has him in my top 10. Last three races here – 25th, 14th & 8th.

Kevin Harvick – Since the Chase started, he has collected 7 top 10’s. In the last 5 races here, Harvick has the 2nd best average finish with 8.80. Last three races here – 8th, 5th & 19th.

Jamie McMurray – Have you noticed the hot streak this guy is on? In the last five ’08 season races, he has a 11.2 finishing average. His last three races here – 18th, 35th & 14th. I would be looking at his momentum and the fact that he can get towards the front here being that he has finished 9th and 7th before.

Tony Stewart – Tony is not so great here either. His average is only 12.2, but you don’t know what kind of day you’re going to get. Last three races here – 15th, 15th & 30th.

David Ragan – Not much to say since he’s only been here once, but that one time he did place 10th. He is also in my “Hot Streak” list above, with an average of 10.4 for the last 5 ’08 season races. He may be wrth rolling the dice on, but that’s your call.

Good Drivers, With Not So Good Records:

Kurt Busch – He is on a roll lately, with an average of 17.6 in the last 5 ’08 season races. Now as far as Miami goes, it’s a hard call. The last three races here – 5th, 43rd & 2nd. Others include; 19th, 23rd, 1st, & 36th. See what I mean? His average at this track is 18.4

Ryan Newman – Average finish here is 20.2 along with two top 10’s. Other finishes were 37th, 30th, 23rd & 18th.

Dale Jr. – He normally runs mid-pack around the 20’s. I know some Jr. fans will be tempted to pick him but I would not encourage it based on the statistics here. Out of 8 races here, he has NEVER cracked the top 10. His finishes are as follows; 13th, 15th, 21st, 24th, 23rd, 19th, 19th & last year’s dramatic DEI finish of 36th. Don’t give up just yet, there’s still hope. His speedway average is 17.0 and he is on a hot streak with a finishing average of 15.0 over the last 5 ’08 regular season races.With momentum on his side, he could crack the top 10.

Kyle Busch – Hold your hats folks, Kyle is ranked 45th as far as averages go for Miami! His average finish here is 33.0 for the 3 races that he has raced in. Those race finishes were 41st, 38th & 20th.

My Winning Pick For The Week:

This is a tough one for me. Biffle and Edwards are my odds on favorites. I could almost flip a coin. On one hand, it seems the Roush team designed this track for themselves, so any of their drivers could win this one. Biffle seems to know this track like his own backyard, then on the other hand, Edwards needs this more than anyone does for any hope. It’s already a shot in the dark to beat the 48 team, so I think he will be shooting for flawless pit stops with his foot through the floor board. With that said, I am gonna go with statistics and jump on the Biffle train! Edwards will be my alternate winner with Matt Kenseth placing in the top 5.
Well, that’s about all I can give you, for you to make an educated decision. Factor in how well drivers have done here in recent years since it was redesigned, and ones that are on a hot streak. You’ll also have to figure in the unknown caution and who may get tied up in it. Keep in mind, last year, only 16 drivers remained on the lead lap when it was all said and done. This will be the most difficult part of making your picks. Like I said at the top of this article, (“The average starting position for winners are 6.55 and the average finish for a pole winner is 6.77. In making your picks, lets go ahead and put it on the table now, qualifying would be a great tool for making your final decision. Statistically speaking, you should go with the top 15.”) keep this in mind also. Good Luck.

It’s a sad day when your wife knows the season is ending. She is already making plans for me, that “honey do” list is looking like a scroll.