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In anticipation of Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway, special edition NASCAR National Series News & Notes will be distributed Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
Here’s a look at what to expect:
Monday: NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Championship 4 notes
Tuesday: An in-depth look at the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4
Wednesday: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship race notes at Homestead-Miami Speedway
NASCAR Xfinity Series
Next Race: Ford EcoBoost 300
The Place: Homestead-Miami Speedway
The Date: Saturday, Nov. 16
The Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN, 3 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 300 miles (200 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 45),
Stage 2 (Ends on lap 90), Final Stage (Ends on lap 200)
NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series
Next Race: Ford EcoBoost 200
The Place: Homestead-Miami Speedway
The Date: Friday, Nov. 15
The Time: 8 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 7:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 201 miles (134 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 30),
Stage 2 (Ends on lap 60), Final Stage (Ends on lap 134)
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
By The Numbers: Homestead-Miami Speedway
1 – Tony Stewart is the only driver in series history to win at the famed 1.5-mile speedway in his first appearance (1999).
2 – Number of times the Busch pole-winner has won the race – 2001, Bill Elliott and 2002, Kurt Busch
3 – Number of Busch poles at Homestead-Miami Speedway by Denny Hamlin – most all-time
6 – Number of times the winner of the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway has won the title during the Playoff Era; including the last five seasons in the elimination-style format of the Playoffs (Tony Stewart, 2011; Kevin Harvick, 2014; Kyle Busch, 2015; Jimmie Johnson, 2016, Martin Truex Jr., 2017, Joey Logano, 2018).
12 – Number of Playoff races at Homestead-Miami Speedway that were won by Playoff contenders; three times a non-Playoff contender has won season finale: Greg Biffle (2004 and 2006) and Denny Hamlin (2013).
14 – Number of different Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series winners at Homestead-Miami Speedway; led by Greg Biffle and Tony Stewart with three each.
14 – The most cautions in a single Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway (11/21/2004; the inaugural Playoff race in Miami)
14 – Number of different Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Busch pole winners at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
15 – Number of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoff races Homestead-Miami Speedway has hosted (2004-2019).
15 – The worst finish by the eventual series champion in a Playoffs race at Homestead-Miami Speedway (it happened three times: Tony Stewart in 2005, Jimmie Johnson in 2008 and Brad Keselowski in 2012).
19 – Most Homestead-Miami Cup starts – Matt Kenseth
20 – Total number of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races held at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
18-20 – The degrees of banking in all four turns of Homestead-Miami Speedway.
22 – The age of the youngest Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Busch Pole Award winner at Homestead-Miami Speedway: Joey Logano (11/18/2012 – 22 years, 5 months, 25 days).
24 – The age of the youngest Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race winner at Homestead-Miami Speedway: Kurt Busch (11/17/2002 – 24 years, 3 months, 13 days).
26 – The greatest number of lead changes in a single race at Homestead-Miami Speedway (11/20/2011).
38 – The lowest starting position by a race winner at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Denny Hamlin, 2009).
46 – The age of the oldest Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Busch Pole Award and race winner at Homestead-Miami Speedway: Bill Elliott set both records in 2001 (11/11/2001 – 46 years, 1 month, 3 days).
73 – Total number of NASCAR national series races held at Homestead-Miami Speedway, second-most by a track in the state of Florida: MENCS (20), NXS (24) and NGOTS (23).
150.0 – The highest score in driver rating scale, considered a perfect performance, and has only been accomplished at Homestead-Miami Speedway once, in 2010 by Carl Edwards.
267 – Number of laps scheduled for this weekend’s Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Homestead Heroes: Recent Title-Clinching Performances
Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 (3 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) will mark the conclusion of the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season. Below are how the last nine season finales at Homestead-Miami Speedway turned out:
2010 – Jimmie Johnson Tracks Down Denny Hamlin For Fifth Straight Title
Denny Hamlin held a comfortable 15-point lead on Jimmie Johnson for the championship heading into the season finale. However, Hamlin could not close out the title. Hamlin damaged his Toyota with an early-race spin and finished 14th as a result. Kevin Harvick, who was third in points entering the race, finished third. Johnson placed runner-up to take home his fifth consecutive championship.
2011 – Tony Stewart Wins Third Championship In Epic Race
Trailing leader Carl Edwards by three points entering the 2011 finale, Tony Stewart virtually needed a win to capture the title – especially considering that Edwards ultimately finished runner-up in the race.
Stewart drove to the front from the back of the field twice and edged out Edwards to get to Victory Lane.
The pair finished the season tied in points, but Stewart held the tiebreaker over Edwards of most wins during the season (five to one).
2012 – Brad Keselowski Fends Off Jimmie Johnson For First Championship
Brad Keselowski entered the 2012 season finale 20 points ahead of second-place Jimmie Johnson in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings.
Keselowski, who won two Playoff races to help put himself in championship-clinching position, didn’t produce his best performance with a 15th-place showing.
But problems in the pits for Johnson caused the five-time champion to finish 36th and helped Keselowski secure his first championship, as well as the first title for Team Penske.
2013 – Jimmie Johnson Closes In On Earnhardt And Petty With Sixth Title
After building up his points lead on the strength of six wins, 16 top fives and 23 top 10s, Jimmie Johnson needed to finish 23rd to capture his sixth Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship.
Following an incident on a restart just shy of the 200-lap mark, Johnson ended up 23rd when it all sorted itself out.
By the end of the race, he worked his way up to finish ninth, earning Hendrick Motorsports a record 11th championship.
2014 – Harvick Rides To Two ‘Do Or Die’ Victories To Earn First Series Title
Kevin Harvick started the penultimate race of the 2014 season needing a win to get into the Championship 4 race at Phoenix. He dominated the contest, leading 264 laps to earn the victory and a spot in the Championship 4. After playing mind games throughout Homestead week with the rest of the field, Harvick held off runner-up Ryan Newman to earn his first career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series title.
2015 – Kyle Busch Overcomes Injury For Improbable Comeback
Just ninth months after breaking his right leg and fracturing his left foot, Kyle Busch edged out defending champion Kevin Harvick for the Homestead race win and his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship. Busch missed the first 11 races of the season after sustaining his injuries in a crash in the season-opening race NASCAR Xfinity race at Daytona. He came back to win five races and cement his name in NASCAR history.
2016 – Johnson Ties Series Record With Seventh Championship
Jimmie Johnson proved once again to not count him out in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. He won his way into the Round of 8 with a victory at Charlotte, then took the checkered flag at Martinsville to punch his ticket to Homestead. He provided a walk-off win at Homestead to capture his seventh championship, tying Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series record.
2017 – Martin Truex Jr. Earns First Championship
Driving for the Denver-based Furniture Row Racing Team, Truex turned a career best season into a championship for the ages. His victory in the Homestead finale was a personal best eighth on the year. He led the final 34 laps and held off a hard charging Kyle Busch by .681-seconds to earn the trophy hoist. It was an emotional victory with team owner, Barney Visser recovering from a recent heart attack back in Denver and Truex’s longtime girlfriend Sherry Pollex trackside after a year of major medical obstacles.
2018 – Joey Logano Wins First Championship
After qualifying for the Championship 4 in the Round of 8 opening race at Martinsville Speedway, the 28-year old Logano headed to Homestead-Miami largely considered the “underdog” to 2018’s “Big 3” – Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick. The threesome (Busch, 9, Harvick, 8 and Truex, 4) won 21 of the first 35 races in 2018. However, the Team Penske driver grabbed his opportunity and took it to the Big 3, winning the season finale by a sizable 1.7-seconds over Truex, Harvick and Busch and taking his career first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship trophy – Team Penske’s second.
This will be the third consecutive year that Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. have advanced to the Homestead-Miami Speedway Championship 4 round. This marks the second time in NASCAR’s Playoff era that three of the four title contenders were championship eligible in consecutive years. It marks the fourth consecutive time that three of the four drivers vying for the big trophy are former Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champs.
Harvick won the 2014 championship, Busch in 2015 and Truex in 2017.
A Spoiler At Homestead?
Since the introduction of the “win and you’re in” elimination-style Playoff format, the eventual champion has won at Homestead-Miami Speedway each of the five years (Kevin Harvick, 2014; Kyle Busch, 2015; Jimmie Johnson, 2016, Martin Truex Jr., 2017 and Joey Logano, 2018). Still, a driver out of championship contention can win the race.
There is plenty of motivation. Jimmie Johnson won the race in 2016 en route to his record-tying seventh Cup title. He is looking to snap a career long 94-race winless streak. This season marks the first time Johnson didn’t qualify for the Playoffs and he’d love nothing more than to end it in Victory Lane.
Logano is the defending race winner and reigning champion and having just missed a shot at defending his title – fifth best after the previous Playoff round, motivation is not an issue.
In addition to Logano and Johnson, both previous Homestead winners, Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kyle Larson claims Homestead-Miami Speedway as his favorite track.
The 27-year-old NASCAR Next alumnus finished runner-up at Homestead in 2016 after leading a race-high 132 laps and placed fifth at the 1.5-mile track in 2015. After a breakout season in 2017, when he set career highs in wins (four), top fives (14), top 10s (19) and average finish (13.6), Larson team struggled in 2019. But he won his first race (at Dover, Del.) in two years during the Playoff push and arrives in South Florida fresh off a fourth place run at Phoenix. He’s led 322 laps at Homestead in the last three Playoff races seeking his first Cup win at the track.
And Larson does have a win in the sun at Miami – in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. He took the checkered flag in 2015 after finishing third in 2013 and second in 2014 in the Xfinity Series races.
Atop the Leader Board
All five Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champions crowned since the elimination-style Playoff format was introduced in 2014 earned their title by taking the checkered flag. In four of those years (2014, 2015, 2017, 2018), second place in the standings finished second in the race.
That means there’s a lot of pressure on this year’s Championship 4 to win, or at least finish very close to the front, to secure the title.
Denny Hamlin leads the Championship 4 in top-five finishes in 2019 with 19, followed by Kyle Busch’s 16. Busch has the most top 10s on the year with 26 and Martin Truex Jr. has the most victories (seven).
Hamlin, making his first Playoff appearance since 2015, leads the champion foursome as the only multi-time Homestead winner, taking the checkered flag in 2009 and 2013. Harvick, however, leads the four title contenders – in fact the entire field – in average finish (5.643). Truex is next with a 9.154, followed by Hamlin (10.571) and Busch (17.429).
Best of the Rest
In 2018, Stewart-Haas Racing driver Aric Almirola raced his way to fifth place in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points standings – a career-best showing for the Tampa native and an example of the motivation that remains even for those drivers who did not advance to the Championship 4.
As the points stand now, Joey Logano sits in fifth place with a 23-point advantage over sixth place Kyle Larson and a 41-point edge over Logano’s Team Penske teammate Ryan Blaney in seventh. Larson’s best career championship standings was eighth place in 2017. Blaney’s top finish in the standings was ninth place in 2017.
As for the top non-Playoff drivers from this season, Jimmie Johnson and Daniel Suarez have been battling for the 17th position since the Playoffs began. As of now, Suarez holds a 16-point advantage on Johnson heading into Homestead, where Johnson won the race in 2016 and has 11 top-10 finishes.
Johnson had been ranked 17th for four weeks until the Playoff race at Martinsville where the seven-time Cup champion suffered the first of two consecutive sub 30th-place finishes. He was 38th at Martinsville, Va. and 34th at Texas.
Suarez has not finished better than 30th in two Cup Series starts at Homestead. His best career Cup championship finish – in two seasons – was a 20th-place finish in his 2017 rookie season so he would appear in good shape to set a new high this week.
Rookies Race for the Checkered Flag
Richard Childress Racing driver Daniel Hemric and JTG Daugherty Racing’s Ryan Preece have kept the Sunoco Rookie of the Year crown battle intense and it remains competitive even heading into the season’s final race at Miami.
Hemric is ranked 25th in the championship standings only 10 points ahead of Preece in 26th place.
Their primary season statistics read similarly. Hemric won a pole position (at Kansas-2) and has one top-five and two top-10 finishes – his best outcome a seventh-place finish at Talladega-1. His best career finish at Homestead is a fourth place in the 2018 Xfinity Series championship race there last year. He was fifth there in 2016 NASCARA Gander Outdoors Truck Series finale.
Preece’s best rookie showing this season was a third place at Talladega-1. He also has a previous top five effort at Homestead, finishing fifth in the Xfinity Series finale there in 2017.