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NASCAR shifts gears from short track to superspeedway

By Pete Pistone  (Point Spread Weekly) 

June 13, 2020 12:54 AM

Another hectic week for NASCAR rolls into South Florida Sunday afternoon for the Dixie Vodka 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. After tackling the short track grind of Martinsville Speedway Wednesday night, NASCAR’s top division moves to the relative wide open spaces of the 1.5-mile Sunshine State superspeedway.

Homestead had been the site of the season championship race in November for nearly 20 years. But this year’s original schedule had a March date for the track, which was postponed due to the COVID-19 crisis. Now it's back on the calendar and for the first time hosting a NASCAR weekend in the heat of the summer.

Homestead’s reputation has been as one of the sport’s most competitive tracks. Its layout provides drivers with multiple grooves to utilize and the end result is usually close competition and many laps of side-by-side racing. However the expected heat and subsequent conditions are expected to greatly impact the track. Homestead’s already abrasive surface will become even slicker under the bright Florida sunshine, which will put a premium on handling. The absence of any practice will compound the degree of difficulty for crew chiefs looking for the right set-up to start the race and then in turn making the proper adjustments as the 400 miles wears on.

Here are the favorites for Sunday’s Dixie Vodka 400:

KEVIN HARVICK

Harvick last won at Homestead 2014 with the victory clinching his Cup Series championship. Since taking the checkered flag then the Stewart-Haas Racing driver has not finished outside the top-five. Harvick has a series-best average finish of 4.6 over the last ten Homestead races and rides into Sunday on a streak of six consecutive top-five runs most recently a fourth last November. Harvick won last Sunday at another 1.5-mile track in Atlanta and his other 2020 victory came at another intermediate at Darlington.

KYLE BUSCH

Throw out his rough outing Wednesday in Martinsville when for the first time all season Busch was never even near the top-10. Homestead should provide a much-needed pick me up to the defending series champion who locked up last year’s title by winning at the track last November. Busch has won twice in the last six Homestead races all with finishes inside the top-10. Dating to 2010, Busch has led a series-best 433 laps at Homestead with Harvick next on the list at 298.

MARTIN TRUEX JR.

He scored his first 2020 win Wednesday at Martinsville and has an excellent shot to be the first back-to-back winner of the season. Truex Jr.’s championship was clinched with his 2017 Homestead win and the Joe Gibbs Racing driver has finished two straight years since. He has six career top-5 and 10 top-10 finishes at Homestead.

JOEY LOGANO

He’s another former Homestead winner and champion with Logano’s 2018 accomplishment. The Team Penske driver has finished in the top-5 in four of the last five races at the track. Logano led a race-high 80 laps last fall at Homestead on his way to a fifth-place finish.

 

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