NASCAR Picks for Homestead-Miami
Length: 1.500 miles
Location: Homestead, Florida
It started at Daytona in February, and this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the 2013 Sprint Cup season will come to a close. For Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson, the outcome of Sunday's season finale will decide which driver walks away as the Sprint Cup champion. The race will also decide championships in fantasy leagues, and knowing where you stand in your league and what you want to try to accomplish is crucial when setting your lineup this weekend.
For those fantasy owners fortunate enough to enter the season finale in first place in their leagues, Sunday's race isn't the time to reinvent the wheel. After all, the strategy you have been using throughout the year has put you in position to claim a title, so there is no reason to change things up at this point. Stick with the drivers that have been reliable all year and bring home a title.
For other owners, you have a choice. You can take a conservative approach and pick the popular lineup, but that strategy will likely result in simply holding your position in the standings. On the other hand, you could gamble a bit and load up your roster with drivers that have high upside but are less consistent than some of the fantasy stalwarts. Yes, this strategy could backfire and result in dropping a few spots in the final standings. However, it could also be your best hope of overtaking the leader in your league and snatching a title for yourself.
Kevin Harvick, #29 Budweiser/Rheem, Richard Childress Racing [Yahoo Class A]
His 7.9 average finish at Homestead is the second best in the series; in 12 starts at the track, Harvick has 10 top-10 finishes. More importantly, he has been even better at the track in recent years. In his last five starts at Homestead, Harvick has compiled a 4.8 average finish and has three top-three finishes during the stretch.
Carl Edwards, #99 Fastenal/Aflac/UPS/Subway, Roush Fenway Racing [Yahoo Class B]
In nine starts at Homestead, Edwards has never finished outside the top 15; his 6.0 average finish is the best in the series. He has actually finished 12th or better in his last eight starts at the track and during the stretch, he has five top-five finishes -- including a pair of wins. Throw in the fact that Edwards has finished either first or second in three of his last five starts at Homestead, and his value is obvious.
Jeff Gordon, #24 Drive to End Hunger/Axalta, Hendrick Motorsports [Yahoo Class A]
Gordon has started all 14 races at Homestead, compiling a 10.6 average finish and logging 11 top-10s. By the way, he is also the defending winner of this weekend's race, and he has finished sixth or better in five of his last six starts at the track. Even if he doesn't make it back-to-back wins at Homestead, Gordon looks like a safe bet to crack the top five once again.
Clint Bowyer, #15 5-Hour Energy, Michael Waltrip Racing [Yahoo Class A]
He has been his typically consistent self throughout his career at Homestead. In seven starts at the track, he has six top-12 finishes, including five straight. Meanwhile, Bowyer has been at his best at Homestead the last two years, finishing sixth in 2011 and a career-best second last year. His first career win at the track could come sooner rather than later at his current pace.
Martin Truex, Jr., #56 NAPA Auto Parts, Michael Waltrip Racing [Yahoo Class B]
Since joining the Cup Series full time, Truex has finished 11th or better in all seven starts at Homestead. During the stretch, he has compiled a 6.7 average finish and has finished sixth or better four times, including in each of his last two starts at the track. Homestead is probably Truex' best track, and fantasy owners should take advantage.
Jimmie Johnson, #48 Lowe's/Kobalt Tools, Hendrick Motorsports [Yahoo Class A]
Although he has never won a race at Homestead (and has a 15.3 average finish in 12 starts), Johnson's numbers at the track are a bit misleading. After all, he has entered the season finale needing only a decent finish to clinch a championship on multiple occasions. He is in a similar situation this weekend, so fantasy owners should expect Johnson and company to play things a little conservative -- which could hurt his value a bit.
Matt Kenseth, #20 Husky/Dollar General, Joe Gibbs Racing [Yahoo Class A]
He got off to a rough start at Homestead, but Kenseth has turned a corner at the track recently. In his last eight starts at Homestead, he has six top-15s, including five top-five finishes. More importantly, Kenseth has three top-three finishes during the stretch, including a victory. Kenseth has been the best driver at 1.5-mile tracks all season, and he should cap the year with one more solid showing.
Greg Biffle, #16 3M/Bondo, Roush Fenway Racing [Yahoo Class B]
Since reeling off three straight wins at Homestead from 2004 to 2006, Biffle has come back down to earth a bit at the track. He has just two top-10s in his last five starts, but he does have four top-15s during the stretch. Biffle also finished fifth at Homestead last year, so there is a chance he could be recapturing his winning form.
Kasey Kahne, #5 Farmers Insurance/Quaker State, Hendrick Motorsports [Yahoo Class A]
Kahne is still looking for his first win at Homestead, but he has had several great runs at the track lately and has been stout at 1.5-mile tracks all season. He has finished seventh or better in four of his last seven starts at Homestead, including twice in his last three starts at the track. Meanwhile, Kahne has finished second at 1.5-mile tracks four times in 2013.
Kyle Busch, #18 Mars Brands/Interstate Batteries, Joe Gibbs Racing [Yahoo Class B]
With a 23.1 average finish in eight starts at Homestead, the track has been one of Busch's worst throughout his career. However, he made serious strides last season, logging a career-best fourth-place finish at Homestead. Throw in his stellar record at 1.5-mile tracks this year, and writing him off completely would be a major mistake. In fact, Busch could be an excellent pick for owners that need to gamble a bit to try to steal away a league title in the final race.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., #88 National Guard/Diet Mountain Dew, Hendrick Motorsports [Yahoo Class B]
His career record at Homestead is nothing to brag about, but Junior has come into his own at the track the past two seasons. He finished what was then a career-best 11th at the track in 2011, and last year he logged his first-ever top-10. Junior has also been enjoying an excellent Chase, so he should be able to finish in or around the top 10 at Homestead once again this weekend.
Ryan Newman, #39 Quicken Loans/Haas Automation, Stewart-Haas Racing [Yahoo Class B]
Newman has definitely figured something out at Homestead the past few years. He has three straight finishes of 12th or better at the track, compiling a 7.3 average finish during the stretch. Newman finished a career-best third at Homestead last season, and he deserves to be considered a prime sleeper candidate in any format.