The NASCAR race at Homestead this weekend will represent a return to basics, or at least some semblence of normal, after two wild and chaotic races to start the 2021 season.
NASCAR Cup Series teams started the season with the crash-marred Daytona 500, followed by the fender-banging circus on the Daytona Road Course. Now they head to South Florida for the first speedway race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway, a 1.5-mile track where aerodynamics and horsepower matter more than they did in the first two weeks.
Also Read: Homestead TV schedule, start times
After huge upsets by MIchael McDowell and Christopher Bell in the first two races, the superstars of the sport are expected return to the front at Homestead.
“I think it will be more status quo on where we were last year," says Denny Hamlin, a championship contender who won seven races a year ago.
The status quo means Hamlin and Kevin Harvick, who combined to win 15 of the 36 races last year, and 2020 champion Chase Elliott. Team Penske teammates Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski, who both made the championship four last year, will be in the hunt, while former champions Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. are looking for bounce-back seasons. All but Truex won on 1.5-mile tracks last year, with Hamlin and Logano each winning twice on mile-and-a-halfs. That group of drivers also dominated on the other speedways from one to 2.5 miles.
Big, fast speedways like Homestead are where top teams like Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, Team Penske and Stewart-Haas use their vast resrouces to rise to the top.
"We are about to get into a chunk of the season where you are going to start to see some of your normal winners in the bracket," Hamlin said.
NASCAR odds at Homestead
Denny Hamlin 5-1
Chase Elliott 11-2
Kevin Harvick 6-1
Martin Truex Jr. 7-1
Kyle Larson 17-2
Kyle Busch 10-1
Joey Logano 10-1
Brad Keselowski 12-1
Ryan Blaney 14-1
Best bets to win at Homestead
Hamlin leads all active drivers with three wins at Homestead, followed by Kyle Busch with two. Harvick, Truex and Logano have also won on the 1.5-mile track.
Chase Elliot proved last year that he can win on any type of track, including a 1.5-mile oval (Charlotte). Also keep an eye on Kyle Larson, his new teammate at Hendrick Motorsports. Larson has six career victories, five on big, fast speedways. He's also good at Homestead, where he has three top-fives, including a runnerup finish in 2016.
Long shots to win at Homestead
Christopher Bell proved last week that he is ready to win in the NASCAR Cup Series, surprising everyone by scoring his first victory on a road course. With Joe Gibbs Racing, there is reason to believe he is the real deal who can win on a big oval at any time. A 25-1 shot is worth the gamble.
Tyler Reddick is also a good gamble. Like Bell, he has loads of talent and is just waiting to bust loose. He finished fourth as a rookie at Homestead and scored two victories at the track in the Xfinity Series.
Kurt Busch at 40-1 is also a good gamble. The 2004 champion won at the track way back in 2002 and has three other top-five finishes there. At 43, Busch is still a top driver capable of winning anywhere.
Homestead Starting Lineup
- Denny Hamlin No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
- Joey Logano No. 22 Penske Racing Ford
- Christopher Bell No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
- Kevin Harvick No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford
- Kurt Busch No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
- Michael McDowell No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford
- Brad Keselowski No. 2 Penske Racing Ford
- Ryan Preece No. 37 JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet
- Martin Truex Jr. No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
- Cole Custer No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford
- Chase Elliott No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
- Chris Buescher No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford
- Alex Bowman No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
- Ryan Blaney No. 12 Penske Racing Ford
- Ricky Stenhouse Jr. No. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet
- Aric Almirola No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford
- Kyle Larson No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
- Erik Jones No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Chevrolet
- Bubba Wallace No. 23 23XI Racing Toyota
- Justin Haley No. 77 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet
- Daniel Suarez No. 99 TrackHouse Racing Chevrolet
- Austin Dillon No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
- Ryan Newman No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford
- Kyle Busch No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
- Corey Lajoie No. 7 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet
- Cody Ware No. 51 Petty Ware Racing Chevrolet
- Anthony Alfredo No. 36 Front Row Motorsports Ford
- Garrett Smithley No. 53 Rick Ware Racing Ford
- James Davison No. 15 Rick Ware Racing Chevrolet
- Chase Briscoe No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford
- William Byron No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
- Ross Chastain No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
- Timmy Hill No. 66 MBM Motorsports Ford
- B.J. McLeod No. 78 Live Fast Motorsports Ford
- Tyler Reddick No. 8 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
- Josh Bilicki No. 52 Rick Ware Racing Ford
- Matt DiBenedetto No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford
- Quin Houff No. 00 StarCom Racing Chevrolet