The season has all boiled down to this. One race, four of the very best drivers in the sport battling it out for the right to win a title. These four have definitely been the class all season long and after Denny Hamlin‘s terrific performance last week to win his way in to Miami, that team will be riding a wave of momentum into Homestead. Martin Truex Jr. had a series-best 7 wins this season and has had an extra two weeks of prep after his win at Martinsville, meanwhile Kevin Harvick locked himself in with his 4th win of the season at Texas. Hamlin picked up his 6th win with Crew Chief Chris Gabehart and his teammate Kyle Busch claimed the final transfer spot on points with a runner-up finish despite the fact that team hasn’t won in 21 consecutive races.
As for Miami, all four of these drivers have had success at Homestead and picked up a win at the 1.5 mile race track. In each year of this format, the championship winner has had to win in order to clinch the title, a trend that will almost certainly continue on Sunday. Past champions Harvick (’14), Busch (’15) & Truex (’17) all won in Miami to claim their one and only title. Meanwhile, Denny Hamlin who searches for that elusive first championship has two career wins at Homestead coming back in 2009 & 2013. He is the only active driver with multiple wins at this racetrack, a trend that works in his favor.
Of the four, Harvick has the best career average finish at 6.56 with 1 win, 16 top 10’s and 10 top 5’s in 18 career starts. Hamlin is right after Harvick in that category at 10.57 with the 2 wins, 9 top 10’s and 4 top 5’s in 14 career starts. Martin Truex Jr. sits at 10.79 over his career with 9 top 10’s in 14 starts as well, which is impressive considering all the years he rode around in under-funded equipment. Truex has a win and a runner-up finish over the last two seasons. Kyle Busch meanwhile has finished inside the top-seven in six of the past seven years, including that one win, but a bad DNF and some other bad starts earlier in his career brought down his career average. He ran 4th last year and was the runner-up to MTJ the year prior.
Looking at those numbers, I’m convinced our “Championship Four” will run 1,2,3,4 on Sunday. There are at least a few other non-playoff drivers worth monitoring. Kyle Larson is first up with 3 top 5’s in his 6 career starts, he loves to run that high-line and this race track plays right into his hands. Chase Elliott will be looking to avenge his horrendous Round of 8 at a track where he has a career average finish of 6.00 at. Paul Menard makes what is probably the final race of his career and it’s a track where he’s had moderate success at with three top-16 or better finishes over the last five years including a top 5. Jimmie Johnson has had a season to forget, but he did win this race and championship just three years ago and has 11 top 10’s over 14 career starts in Miami.
Ford EcoBoost 400 Odds:
-Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch 13/4
-Kyle Larson 8/1
-Joey Logano 14/1
-Brad Keselowski 20/1
-Chase Elliott 25/1
-Ryan Blaney 40/1
-Kurt Busch, Erik Jones, Alex Bowman 50/1
-Clint Bowyer, William Byron 60/1
-Aric Almriola 80/1
Homestead Miami DraftKings Picks:
Denny Hamlin ($11,100): Hamlin is my pick to win the title. I’ve been with him all season, it’s his year. The No. 11 not only starts on the pole and will be in clean air with the preferred pit stall, but was the leader in consecutive lap average.
Kevin Harvick ($10,800): Harvick starts 3rd as a result of qualifying being cancelled and set based on owner points, and has a good long-run car. The numbers for Harvick at this track speak for themselves and I’ll tend to lean towards averages when the field is so close.
Martin Truex Jr. ($10,600): Truex is starting lower than the rest of the championship four and is also the guy priced below the other three. I’ll take him over Busch is almost every build and it’s a tough call against Harvick. The No. 19 was top 3 across the board in speed and lap average, with those extra 2 weeks of prep, I can see MTJ battling Hamlin all day for the lead.
Kyle Busch ($11,400): Busch was fastest in the only practice session and 2nd in lap average. The issue here is I just haven’t seen this team put it all together and win a race in almost five months. You need a perfect day to win the title, I’ve seen the other three do it last round, but Busch is still an amazing driver. It’s a tough fade for me.
Jimmie Johnson ($7,900): You’re going to want two of the four above, meaning you need to save on salary and hit in the middle to lower tier. I’m going with Jimmie starting 18th at a track he’s had success at. 15th in lap average, I like the 48’s chances to end the season strong and build momentum towards 2020.
Paul Menard ($7,200): Menard makes the final race of his career on Sunday. They were 12th in practice and start 19th. He’s been solid here his entire career and I expect a strong run as he walks off into the sunset.
Austin Dillon ($7,100): Dillon surprisingly has three-straight top-12 finishes at homestead. They could use a strong run to end their season and also start 22nd.
Daniel Suarez ($7,400): Suarez just got some awful news this week that he’s out at SHR. That leaves him once again looking for a ride next season despite a solid first season in the 41. They start 17th and have been top-15 in long and short run speed. I like his chances to end the year strong.
Matt DiBenedetto ($7,600): Matt makes his last start at LFR with a 21st place starting spot. This team has over-achieved all season and were 11th in practice. I can see a top-15 to end his campaign.
David Ragan ($5,700): Farewell to another good driver that is an even better guy. Ragan makes his final full-time start and I also like his chances to end his career with a good run. They’ve finished top 20 each of the last two seasons, starting 31st, another top 20 wins you some money.