Mash The Gas – Homestead-Miami Speedway

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wraps up the 2013 season this Sunday afternoon with the running of the Ford EcoBoost 400 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway where the series champion will be crowned. Jimmie Johnson holds a whopping 28 point advantage over Matt Kenseth while Kevin Harvick sits 34 points back as the only three drivers with a shot at the crown.

For those drivers not in contention for the championship, this race marks the final time to capture a victory this season and a good performance at Homestead can help springboard a successful 2014 campaign.

Homestead is a unique circuit with its progressive banking which provides for multi-groove racing and the aging track surface should promote that even more this weekend.

Here are some storylines to watch as the NASCAR Sprint Cup 2013 season winds down.

Jimmie Johnson
Dan Margetta: Jimmie Johnson is on the verge of his sixth NASCAR Sprint Cup championship. Think about it. . .sixth! That’s just one away from joining the prestigious seven title club of Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt Sr. at the very top of the all-time great NASCAR driver list and Johnson and the #48 team have shown no signs of slowing down. All Johnson has to do this week is race smart and finish 23rd or better and the title is his. Historically, the last time a contender had such devastating final race was 40 years ago when in 1973 Benny Parsons crashed early in the final event at Rockingham and he still managed to limp the car to a 25th place finish to win the title. It would take nothing short of a miracle to snatch this championship away from the 48 team. Just to be safe, however, they are bringing their best chassis to race. The primary car this week has already won convincingly at Dover and Texas and except for a questionable restart infraction in the first Dover race and a late debris caution at Charlotte in October, this car could very well have had four wins in its five starts. That fifth start was at Michigan when Johnson finished 40th after having engine problems. . .but we won’t talk about that. . .

Matt Kenseth
John Wiedemann: “What? Over? Did you say ‘over’? Nothing is over until we decide it is!” Well, I think it is over and Matt Kenseth along with the #20 team made the decision last weekend at Phoenix. A bad handling racecar and pit issues doomed the championship. Kenseth needs twenty plus positions and bonus points over Johnson to grab the cup and that likelihood is nil. A comeback by Kenseth would be historic. The biggest deficit overcome for the championship was Alan Kulwicki in 1992 who was thirty points back, but that amount would be about seven in today’s point system. Kenseth has one win, three top fives, and five top ten finishes in thirteen races at Homestead-Miami. He will need to pad those stats and wish bad luck on Johnson to have a shot at the championship.

Kevin Harvick
DM: Homestead marks the final ride for Kevin Harvick with Richard Childress Racing after twelve years together. Although, the relationship has been tumultuous at times, there has to be extra incentive for all involved to go out a winner. With an extreme outside chance at the championship, look for Harvick and the #29 team to be all out in their quest for a second consecutive victory. Harvick has the second best average finish at Homestead among the drivers so he should run well. If anyone can rattle Jimmie Johnson and the #48 team, it’s Harvick and the #29 bunch. They’ve already joked about locking Johnson in the Port-A-Pottie, but even then, that might be too late. The #29 team has everything to gain this weekend and relatively nothing to lose and that should be reflected in the way they race at Homestead on Sunday.

Kyle Busch
JW: Kyle Busch is looking for his first ever Cup series victory at Homestead-Miami. Busch won in the truck series in 2010 and twice in the Nationwide series in 2009 and 2010. Looking to cap off his best series finish of fourth, Busch was fifth in 2007, a solid run this weekend will be necessary. Just six points ahead of consistant running Dale Earnhardt Jr. and twenty-three behind Kevin Harvick, it looks like a top five place in the points is wrapped up. Busch’s best race at Homestead-Miami Speedway was at last year’s event where he led 191 laps and finished fourth. A repeat performance of that race would finish off this season nicely for Busch. While the Kansas crash clearly took him out of the championship picture this year, Busch responded strong and will be a contender again next season.

Greg Biffle
DM: Greg Biffle has a chance to move into the top five in the point standings with a good Homestead race and the team will be looking for a strong season ending performance to build on for next year. Biffle has won multiple times at Homestead and has had some strong races of late. It appears the Fords have caught up to the other manufacturers in the last few weeks and the season ending race that bears the Ford name in the title sponsor would be the perfect place to put the Blue Oval in victory lane. Homestead suits Biffle’s style well and he shouldn’t be overlooked as a contender on Sunday.

Carl Edwards
JW: Carl Edwards is the statistical leader when the series races at Homestead-Miami. Two wins, two poles, five top fives and seven top tens in nine races along with an average finish of sixth are nice numbers to bring to a race track. A strong run last weekend was negated when Edwards ran out of fuel at the white flag lap. Currently in thirteenth, Edwards has nowhere to go in the point standing but up. Edwards is my pick for the win this weekend and will probably end up in the eleventh position in points when all is said and done, just one spot from appearing on the stage at the awards banquet.

Joey Logano
DM: Another Ford driver not to be overlooked is Joey Logano who completes his first season at Penske Racing this weekend at Homestead. Overall the first year at Penske was a success for Logano as he made the Chase and scored a victory. Logano has come into his own this season and he’s beginning to become a threat to win each and every week. While Logano’s Homestead statistics are not very flattering, this season should be a different story and the #22 team could find themselves celebrating in victory lane at the end of the race and the season.

Jeff Gordon
JW: In fourteen tries, Jeff Gordon only has one win at Homestead-Miami Speedway, and that came last year at this race. Also in those fourteen tries, Gordon has finished outside of the top ten twice and inside of the top five half of the time. You get the picture, Gordon will be a contender this weekend. The thirteenth driver added to the Chase this season took advantage of the gift and currently sits in sixth place in the standings. It is unlikely that he will catch teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. for fifth place as Junior has a seventeen point advantage. Gordon does need to watch his mirror in the standing with Greg Biffle three points back and “best friend” Clint Bowyer seven points behind. Both of those drivers could give Gordon a good battle for positioning in the points.

Juan Pablo Montoya
DM: Juan Pablo Montoya ends his NASCAR career for the time being this weekend at Homestead, the place where it all began in 2006, in front of a highly partisan crowd. Montoya makes his home in South Florida and is extremely popular in the community. A win in front of the hometown crowd would be the perfect send off to Montoya as he moves to the open wheel ranks next season. Montoya’s Homestead stats are very dismal and he’s listed at 100-1 odds in Las Vegas but I’m still going to make him my long shot pick coming off a top ten finish at Phoenix last weekend and based on the incentive to win in his final NASCAR race.

Trevor Bayne
JW: Trevor Bayne revealed this week that he has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. How MS will affect the 22 year old driver, who currently is not experiencing symptoms, is unknown. But what is known about Bayne is that he is a fighter and solid competitor. Bayne is also one of the nicest guys in the garage and my interactions with him have always been positive since I first met him at Road America. I tend not to root for drivers per say, but Bayne in the historic Wood Brothers #21 is always a car I like to see at the front. I wish Trevor the best as he continues what hopefully is a long career in racing. There are a lot of stories this weekend, but the best to tell would be the one that ends with Trevor Bayne and the #21 in victory lane.

Share Button