Fantasy NASCAR: Homestead Miami Speedway
In the Nascar world the Daytona 500 has been viewed as the ‘Super Bowl’ of racing. That is all well and good if you are talking about crowning champions before 2004 but now with the playoff system that is being used this week’s race in Homestead Florida is truly the ‘Super Bowl of Racing’. Where else can you see the fortunes of a competitor or team change so drastically with one small mistake, say a lug nut put on not tight enough or the gas can stuck in the mouth of the tank while the driver drives away. There are many ways that a championship can be won or lost but very rarely do you see a championship event where four competitors can either win or lose. Yes I know you can say swimming or track and field but when is the last time you sat down and watched that without one of your siblings being in it? Yeah, that’s what I thought.
With just four drivers remaining to win the championship Nascar heads to the Homestead Miami Speedway to determine who this year’s king of the road will be. The track itself is a mile and a half long with four turns that are 18 to 20 degrees in banking. Down the straightaways has a mere three degrees of banking and we can expect anywhere from 17 to 26 lead changes as the drivers try to complete the 267 laps needed to win the race. This is the third year that Homestead Miami Speedway has seen just four Chase drivers vie for the championship as the rules were changed prior to the 2014 season. Prior to that season 12 driver’s made the Chase as opposed to then 16 that made it into The Chase this season. There was also three rounds of three races that eliminated four drivers after every segment which means that by the end race here in Miami, only four driver’s remain eligible to hold win the Sprint Cup Championship. Before we get into the rest of the field, let’s take a look at the four drivers who have everything at stake come Sunday afternoon.
Jimmie Johnson ($10,800) – It’s no wonder that Las Vegas has put a 7-2 line on Johnson to not only win the race but the championship in the process. The driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet looks to gain entry into an elite class with only Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt as its members by winning his seventh championship on Sunday afternoon. Johnson won his way into the second round by finishing well but then went on to win a race in the second and third segments to give him a chance at make Nascar history. He also has a few teammates in Alex Bowman and Chase Elliott who will do everything in their power to assure Johnson his seventh championship. This puts him in a very unique spot as both the #24 car of Elliott and the #88 car of Bowman have enough speed to compete for the race win as well. The history here at Miami for Johnson is a good one as he has seven top ten finishes in his last ten starts here. Johnson will start from the 14th position on Sunday afternoon.
Kyle Busch ($10,500) – Busch has been solid in every stage of The Chase rounds so far as he has racked up eight top ten finishes in the nine races run so far. His only blemish was a 30th place finish at Talladega in the second round but that was mainly due to a mutual strategy risk taken by both the driver and crew chief. Besides Jimmie Johnson, Busch is the only other driver to win a championship out of the four drivers that are left in The Chase. His win last year should give him some knowledge as to how to win two in a row as Johnson won all of his championships under old formats to determine the best driver on the circuit. The driver of the #18 M&M’s Toyota has four top ten finishes over the last seven races here in Miami including the coveted win last year that ensured him the championship. Busch will have some help from the other Joe Gibbs Racing drives as Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth are not racing for the championship this time around. Busch starts 9th when the green flag drops on Sunday.
Carl Edwards ($9,700) – Edwards is the other driver that made it to the final four from the Joe Gibbs racing stable so there’s no doubt that in a pinch, both Hamlin and Kenseth will be at the ready to push either Edwards or Busch to the promised land. After a horrible start in round three with a 36th place finish in Martinsville Edwards wasted no time in catapulting himself into the final round by pulling off the win at Texas Motor Speedway. The driver of the #19 Arris Surfboard Toyota had finishes of second and sixth in seven of the other eight races and got in on consistency in the first two rounds. This is probably why Las Vegas has him as a 7-1 favorite to win the championship today. Edwards will look to the past to try to find the right combination here at Homestead as he had six straight top ten finishes, including two wins, from 2006 to 2011. Since then, the best he could muster was an 11th place last year. Edwards starts next to Kyle Busch in the fifth row.
Joey Logano ($10,200) – Logano has also been inserted as a 7-1 favorite along with Edwards to win this week’s Ford EcoBoost 400 in Florida. This doesn’t mean he can’t win it as everyone has a chance but I think he may be being overlooked a bit here. He has four top three finishes in the last five races including two wins and maybe with the help of team mate Brad Keselowski, he can pull this thing off. The driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford has had better success here over the last three races as he has notched his only two top finishes in 2013 with an eighth place finish and a fourth place finish last year. Logano was the last driver not to make the final round of qualifying so although he had a faster speed than six cars above him, he starts 13th on Sunday afternoon.
Now that we have looked at the drivers who can win the championship, let’s take a look at some of the other drivers who have a shot of racking up the points in the Ford Eco-Boost 400.
Kevin Harvick ($10,700) – Only Jimmie Johnson has a higher salary that Harvick this week and that could have something to do with the fact that the driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet has nine top ten finishes in his last ten starts here in Miami. That’s not a bad gamble to take as he could also clear the way for team mate Jimmie Johnson to win his seventh championship. Harvick does have four top ten finishes in the last five races this season but was knocked out of The Chase thanks to a 20th place finish in Martinsville. Harvick has won the pole for the 18th Annual Ford EcoBoost 400.
Denny Hamlin ($8,600) – Hamlin is another driver that can help a team mate win the championship while taking home the checkered flag come Sunday afternoon. The driver of the #11 FedEx Toyota has strung together four top ten finishes over the past four races, His history here at Homestead is on his side as well as he has seven top ten finishes to go along with two wins over the past ten races here in the sunshine state. His price is almost too good to be true here as he could easily finish in the top ten when the drivers rev up the engines for the last race of the season. Hamlin ran a few hot laps during qualifying which was good enough to get him starting from the second row on Sunday.
Kasey Kahne ($8,200) – Kahne makes for a good play here only because his qualifying effort was so horrific. The driver of the #5 Great Clips Chevrolet will start from the 29th position which means he has the potential to come up in the field and pass lesser skilled drivers like Michael McDowell and Brian Scott. Kahne has four top ten finishes here in Miami over the past ten starts and has finished 19th or better in eight of those races.
Ty Dillon ($6,600) – If we want to get some of the top guns on our roster we have to do some dumpster diving. Dillon starts from the 34th position after not starting a Sprint Cup race since the first week of October. Nevermind that though as the driver of the #95 Advil car ran this race last year and finished a lap down in 23rd place. We would certainly take that here especially at his reduced price.
That will wrap it up for the season here at Fanvice.com where Nascar is concerned. Check back every day as the team here at Fanvicestrives to give you the best insight possible for all of your Daily Fantasy Sports needs. Follow me on twitter @elctrceye and as always, good luck in your games this weekend.