Last Updated: 2017-11-15
Homestead-Miami Speedway is the last stop for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, and Brad Keselowski all have the chance to walk away a champion. The other drivers will all be running for pride and paychecks. The Ford EcoBoost 400 is the capper to the NASCAR Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway and signals the end of the NASCAR season. We’ll get things fired up again in mid-February at Daytona International Speedway, but a lot of things are left to be decided this weekend.
For the first time in the postseason, a race was won by somebody not still active for the title. Last week’s win for Matt Kenseth at Phoenix was nice to see, since Kenseth is pondering his future in the sport. His win at PIR was his first in 51 races. He was eliminated from championship contention after the Round of 12, but that win was a big one for him as he takes some time off from the sport.
That win came at the expense of Denny Hamlin, who led the most laps, won the second stage, and was in position to advance to the Final Four, but wrecked. Hamlin and Chase Elliott went back and forth all day long. Elliott finished second as a guy that we tipped last week, but that wasn’t enough to put him in the championship group. It was win or bust for Elliott and he narrowly busted.
This is the 36th and final race of what has been an interesting NASCAR season. The scoring format changes seem to have worked in terms of creating more drama, but ratings and attendance took a hit this season. We’ll have to see what NASCAR officials have planned for the offseason to get the sport back up to its previous levels. That will be a discussion for another day. For now, we’re looking ahead to the championship race.
The 1.5-mile oval at Homestead-Miami is a once-a-year stop, solely for the purposes of determining a champion. This race has been the final one of the season since 2002. Ford owns the most wins in this race, but a Ford hasn’t won since 2010. Chevrolet has four of the last six wins and Toyota has the other two. One Ford driver, Brad Keselowski, is joined by one Chevy driver, Kevin Harvick, and two Toyota drivers, Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch, as the last four standing.
The race favorite this week is not a surprise at all. This is a 1.5-mile track, therefore 5Dimes Sportsbook has Martin Truex Jr. priced at +230. Truex has not won here and really hasn’t had much success here. He was second way back in 2006, third in 2011, and fourth in 2013. Over the last three years at Homestead, Truex is 36th, 12th, and 17th. He has finished in the top three in each of his last four races, though, so he is rounding back into his usual form. Truex has wins at Las Vegas, Kansas, Kentucky, Chicagoland, and Charlotte this season, which are all 1.5-mile tracks. You have to respect that type of success and clearly oddsmakers have.
Kyle Busch is +350 to grab the win and the title. Busch does have a win here and it came back in 2015. He was sixth last year. Busch started out hot with two wins in the Round of 16, but only has one win and one top-five finish in the six playoff races since. Over the last two years, Busch has come into Homestead with three straight top-five finishes. That is not the case this season. With his teammate’s dominance on 1.5-mile tracks, Busch hasn’t fared as well on them as he would have liked. He’s been better on short tracks this year. Obviously Busch is dangerous no matter the layout, but he may not be worth this low price this week. There are better options around him or it is probably a better option to take the short price with Truex.
Kevin Harvick is +400 this week. Harvick has really come on strong. His line regular season win came at Sonoma, which was pretty random for a guy who usually runs better on ovals and runs with a lot of speed. He won the race at Texas to punch his ticket into this round and then finished fifth at Phoenix, a track that he typically shows well at every time the circuit goes there. Harvick has two fifths and a win in his last three races. He led the most laps and won the first two stages at Charlotte. He has finished first, second, and third at Homestead over the last three years and hasn’t finished outside the top 10 since 2007. He isn’t a bad bet, but a price this low is a little surprising.
I was hoping for a better number on Kyle Larson, but we did not get one. Larson is the co-third favorite with Harvick at +400. Larson has been very quiet lately and has had no luck in the playoffs. With a couple of blown engines and a couple of wrecks, Larson has finished 39th, 37th, 37th, and 40th the last four races, though he has stage wins in each of the last two. Larson likes bigger tracks, with wins in both Michigan races this season and a lot of high finishes on the 1.5-mile ovals this year. He has back-to-back top-five finishes at Homestead. This price point probably isn’t worth it for him, but don’t be surprised if he wins. Try some matchups with him.
A massive drop-off to Brad Keselowski at +1150 precedes another big drop-off to Denny Hamlin and the rest of the field at +1650 or higher. Given what we’ve seen recently, one of the top drivers will secure the win here. We haven’t seen many long shots hit the board, aside from Kenseth last week. Hamlin is a two-time winner of this race and he has a chip on his shoulder after how last week ended, so he’s probably the most dangerous long shot. Only Tony Stewart and Greg Biffle have more career wins at Homestead than Hamlin.
Coverage of the Ford EcoBoost 400 will be on NBC with a 2:30 p.m. ET start time.
Odds as of November 15, 10 a.m. ET:
Martin Truex Jr +230
Kyle Busch +350
Kevin Harvick +400
Kyle Larson +400
Brad Keselowski +1150
Denny Hamlin +1650
Chase Elliott +1650
Jimmie Johnson +1650
Matt Kenseth +2000
Ryan Blaney +3300
Erik Jones +3300
Joey Logano +4400
Clint Bowyer +5500
Kurt Busch +6600
Dale Earnhardt Jr +6600
Jamie McMurray +8000
Daniel Suarez +11500
Kasey Kahne +13500
Austin Dillon +25000
Ricky Stenhouse Jr +25000
Ryan Newman +25000
Paul Menard +30000
Trevor Bayne +30000
Ty Dillon +30000
Chris Buescher +55000
Aric Almirola +55000
AJ Allmendinger +55000
Danica Patrick +55000
Michael McDowell +100000
David Ragan +150000
Landon Cassill +200000
Reed Sorenson +250000
Ross Chastain +300000
Matt DiBenedetto +300000
Corey LaJoie +300000
Ray Black +400000
Carl Long +400000
Cole Whitt +400000
Jeffrey Earnhardt +400000
-END OF 2017 PREVIEW-
After 36 races and 61 different drivers, it comes down to the final four in Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400. The other drivers in the field have a chance to win the race, but only four drivers have the opportunity to lay claim to the Sprint Cup for the 2016 season. It’s been a grind and it has been one of the most exciting NASCAR Sprint Cup Series seasons in recent memory, but it all comes down to the last race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
The 1.5-mile asphalt track at Homestead-Miami is home to only one race each year, but it’s arguably the biggest race of the year because it crowns a champion. The four drivers left in the running for the Sprint Cup are Joey Logano, Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards, and Kyle Busch. There is one Ford, one Chevy, and two Toyotas in the final four, which seems pretty fitting given how much Joe Gibbs Racing has dominated over the last two years. All four drivers start with 5,000 points on Sunday and the top finisher of the four will take down the championship.
Logano has two wins during Chase races. Johnson also has two wins. Carl Edwards picked a good time for his only win of the Chase because it happened two weeks ago at Texas and it’s the only reason he’s in the final four. Kyle Busch has not won a race since the Brickyard, but he has six top-five finishes in the Chase and had three in the Round of 8, so he’s in the final four.
At 5Dimes Sportsbook, Johnson is the +225 favorite to win the Sprint Cup by being the highest finisher this weekend. Busch is +285 and he’s the second favorite. Logano is +300 and Edwards is +325. Edwards and Busch are the only two drivers in the final four with a win at Homestead-Miami. Edwards actually has two of them, but they both came with Roush Fenway Racing behind the wheel of a Ford. Busch’s win was last year and it gave him the win even though he missed the first 11 races of the year with an injury.
As far as the odds go for this weekend’s Ford EcoBoost 400, Jimmie Johnson is again the favorite there at +425. Johnson was fortunate to win the race at Martinsville because he was 11th at Texas and 38th at Phoenix. He was also safe because of that win at Martinsville, so he certainly took a conservative approach in the final two races. For Johnson to win this race and take down the title, he’ll need to do better than the ninth that he has finished each of the last three years at Homestead-Miami. He was 36th in 2012 and 32nd in 2011. You have to go all the way back to 2010 to find his best finish here of second. That was the last of five straight Sprint Cup Series titles.
Reigning champion Kyle Busch is the second favorite at +550. He’s the reigning Sprint Cup champion and also the reigning champion in the Ford EcoBoost 400. It sets up the same for Busch that it did last season in that he hadn’t won since the Brickyard and then he took the checkered flag at Homestead-Miami. Prior to that, Busch only had one top-five finish and it came back in 2012 when he led the most laps and finished fourth. He only had two other top-10 finishes outside of that prior to last season’s win. He’s fifth, fifth, and second over the last three races, so he’s running well.
Kevin Harvick is not eligible to win the Sprint Cup, but he is +650 to win this week’s race. Harvick is excellent on 1.5-mile tracks, but he’ll have to quickly get over the disappointment of finishing fourth at Phoenix last week, a track that he outright dominates. Harvick does run very well at Homestead-Miami. Dating back to 2001, he has seven top-five finishes, including a win in 2014, a second last season, a second in 2008 and 2003, and a couple of third-place finishes in 2009 and 2010. He hasn’t finished outside the top 10 since 2007. If somebody is going to spoil the party, it seems like Harvick could be that guy.
Kyle Larson is getting a lot of love as the heavy favorite in the Xfinity Series race and he’s also getting some love here at +700 this week. Larson qualified for the Chase, but was eliminated after the first round of cuts. He was third last week at Phoenix and tends to run well on 1.5-mile tracks. Larson finished fifth last year at Homestead-Miami after finishing 13th and 15th the last two seasons. His only Sprint Cup Series win came earlier this year at Michigan.
Joey Logano and Carl Edwards are both +750. Logano won last week at Phoenix and has finished third, first, ninth, second, and first in his last five races. He was fourth in this race last year for his best career finish at this track. Edwards is a two-time winner, but those two wins came back in 2008 and 2010. Since he finished second in 2011, Homestead-Miami has not been kind to Edwards and his team. He’s finished 12th, 12th, 34th, and 11th.
Martin Truex Jr. and Brad Keselowski are two guys that could spoil the party. Truex is excellent on 1.5-mile tracks and he’s +850. Keselowski was great on them up until the Chase and he’s +1150 to rally and grab a big win to wrap up the season. Even though a lot of drivers cannot win the Sprint Cup, going into the winter with some momentum is attractive.
Thank you for being with us all season long and enjoy Sunday’s race, which you can see on NBC.
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