Mash The Gas: NASCAR Championship 4 At Homestead-Miami Speedway

Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano lead the field on a restart during the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. [Photo by Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images]

Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano lead the field on a restart during the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. [Photo by Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images]

by John Wiedemann

Ford EcoBoost 400
Homestead-Miami Speedway
400.5 miles (267 laps)
Sunday, Nov. 19
3 p.m. ET
NBC, 2:30 p.m. ET
MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Stage 1 (Ends on lap 80)
Stage 2 (Ends on lap 160)
Final Stage (Ends on lap 267)
This is it. 26 regular season and 9 playoff races have led us to Homestead-Miami Speedway for the Ford EcoBoost 400, the championship race of the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season.

Four drivers will race one more race for the championship.

All of the four drivers have been here before and three of them have won championships.

Who will win it?

Let’s take a look at the contenders…

Martin Truex Jr.
The popular favorite to win the title is Martin Truex Jr. Truex has been the top driver throughout the regular season and the playoffs. Additionaly, there has been no one better on the intermediate mile and a half tracks this season. Truex and the Furniture Row team excelled at accumulating stage points throughout the season by winning 19 stages as well as picking up playoff points with a series leading seven race wins, six of them at 1.5 mile tracks. Even though Truex hasn’t finished better than 12th in the last three races at Homestead, this has been a season of dominance on the 1.5 mile tracks and recent success at those tracks is what should be looked at. The only one of the three drivers without a championship in the Cup Series, Truex explains, “Than means it’s my turn.” That just may be true.

Kyle Busch
Kyle Busch and the Joe Gibbs Racing team had a slow start to the season. But, in the second half, Busch turned it on and won five races including three in the playoffs. This is the third time that Busch has been in the Championship 4 and he captured his title in 2015 with a win at the Homestead-Miami Speedway. Along with sister team Furniture Row Racing, the Toyotas of Joe Gibbs Racing have consistently shown speed at the mile and a half tracks like Homestead. Busch finished sixth last season at Homestead, losing a championship to Jimmie Johnson.

Kevin Harvick
2014 Champion, Kevin Harvick comes to Homestead-Miami Speedway on a bit of a hot streak. In the four mile and a half tracks in the playoffs, Harvick finished 8th, 3rd (twice) and won at the most recent one in Texas. In that Texas race he out-dueled Martin Truex Jr for the win. Statistically, since 2014, Harvick has had the best average finish at intermediate tracks, but he trails in wins behind Truex, Brad Keselowski and last season’s champion Jimmie Johnson. Harvick won the 2014 race at Homestead to capture his championship and may need to repeat that result to become champion again.

Brad Keselowski
Brad Keselowski is probably the least favored of the four contenders for the championship. But to ignore him would be a mistake. Keselowski has not had the speed that he would like all season long, even “tweeting” about how the Toyotas had a huge advantage throughout the season. But Keselowski is still here in the Championship 4 somehow. The tenacity that Keselowski has is like an old-school racer who will do anything to win. Keselowski knew what he needed to do last weekend to move to the Championship round and he made it happen. Ignoring last year’s race, Keselowski has been solid at Homestead with finishes of third in 2014 and 2015 as well as a sixth place run in 2013. Don’t count Keselowski out, he will be in the mix.

My Prediction
I have to go with the favorite Martin Truex Jr. for the win. Truex has been money on the intermediate tracks and I believe this is his year. The race will probably come down to a battle between Truex and Kyle Busch and I am predicting Busch to finish second just a bit behind Truex. I see Harvick leading early but fading to a top five finish at the end. As much as I think Keselowski the driver can contend, I see the car not being able to give him what he needs and a top ten-ish finish for him.

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