NASCAR Cup Series Championship: Homestead Preview
In a sport loaded with young talent, four grizzled veterans will battle for the NASCAR Cup Series Championship on Sunday at Homestead. A grueling eight-month schedule comes down to 400.5 miles or 267 circuits around the mile and a half oval just outside of Miami. Left standing: three former Cup champions Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski. Fourth, the driver who has dominated this season with seven wins and 18 top fives, Martin Truex Jr. With the highest-finisher-take-all scenario, all bets are off. Regardless, we’ll take a look at each team’s outlook on a title come Sunday.
#18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
2015 Cup Champion Kyle Busch will look to add to his extensive trophy case Sunday. His lone win at Homestead came in the 2015 championship race. In 12 career starts at Homestead, Busch has five top fives but also has an average finish of 19.8. In recent years, Busch has experienced success on the mile and a half raceway finishing seventh or better in four of the past five races at Homestead. Over the past five seasons, Busch has excelled at intermediate speedways finishing over two thirds in the top ten over that span. The Joe Gibbs #18 team will need to build upon that success this weekend if Busch hopes to lift his second Cup title.
Here’s how Busch earned his trip to Miami:
#4 Stewart-Hass Racing Ford
What a tale that would be. In Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s final race, the man who presumed his father’s ride wins the title almost eighteen years later. Out of the Championship Four, Harvick easily has had the most success at Homestead. In 16 races at the mile and a half, Harvick has finished in the top ten fourteen times including winning the race and championship in 2014. Since joining Stewart-Hass Racing, Harvick has never finished worse than third at Homestead. At intermediate speedways this season, Harvick has only finished outside of the top ten three time out of 17 races. Based on previous Homestead results, they have to be the favorites heading into the weekend.
Harvick sums it up after punching his ticket to Championship Weekend:
#2 Penske Racing Ford
Keselowski took home the Cup in 2012; however, that was before the current playoff format was put into place. Since 2013, Keselowski has finished sixth, third, third, and thirty-fifth at Homestead, respectively. At intermediate raceways this season the #2 Penske Ford finished in the top five six times and notched a victory at Atlanta. In a mix full of wild-cards, Keselowski is as capable as any at taking home the title come Sunday. Trust me. Just like the other three fighting for the title, Keselowski will not hesitate to use his bumper when he needs it.
If he wins, let’s hope he re-creates this moment:
Martin Truex Jr.
#78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota
Martin Truex Jr. may not have a championship like the other three drivers, but if anyone deserves the 2017 crown it is Martin Truex Jr. He’s put together the best season out of any driver, let alone the Championship Four, all season long. The #78 Toyota has won seven races and finished in the top five 18 times. However, out of the four remaining teams, Truex’s Furniture Row team has struggled the most at Homestead over the past three seasons. That includes 2015 where Truex made the Championship Four but wound up finishing 12th and had to watch Kyle Busch lift the trophy. On the other hand, at intermediate speedways this season Truex has finished in the top five thirteen out of seventeen races and has a top ten in all but one. His team has been the best at these types of race tracks all season long.
Truex has come a long way since 2013:
Without a doubt, Sunday’s finale at Homestead is going to be thrilling.