After 26 regular season races, nine races though NASCAR’s playoffs with 12 drivers being eliminated it has come down to the Championship Four. One race where the first of the remaining contenders to cross the finish line will be the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Champion. That’s right, no bonus points, no playoff points … just head-to-head racing to determine the champion.
Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski have all won a NASCAR Cup Series Championship during their careers. Martin Truex Jr. has yet to win a championship in NASCAR’s top division. Let’s look at how they all stack up at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Kevin Harvick – #4 Stewart-Hass Racing Ford
- 1 win, 8 top fives, 14 top tens
- Average finish of 6.000, series best
- Driver Rating of 106.0, second best among active drivers
Kyle Busch – #18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
- 1 win, 2 top fives, 5 top tens
- Average finish of 19.833, 17th best
- Driver Rating of 96.9, sixth best among active drivers
Martin Truex Jr. – #78 Furniture Racing Toyota
- 0 wins, 3 top fives, 7 top tens
- Average finish of 10.545, 4th best
- Driver Rating of 101.8, third best among active drivers
Brad Keseloski – #2 Team Penske Ford
- 0 wins, 2 top fives, 3 top tens
- Average finish of 15.889, 11th best
- Driver Rating of 88.5, 9th best among active drivers
The unique aspect of the NASCAR playoffs is that although there are only four drivers and teams that have a shot at winning the championship, there will be 36 other cars on the track that the championship contenders will have to deal with in addition to their other three contenders. That puts even more pressure on the drivers and teams.
The final “winner takes all” race will take place on a track that is 1.5-miles in length with turns that feature banking of 18 to 20 degrees. The crew chiefs will need to make the right decisions for adjustments and the teams will need to execute the pit stops mistake free to give their driver a chance to win the race and/or championship. The drivers will need to be mistake free on the track as well as getting on and off pit road to have the chance at winning.
The race will be 267 laps around Homestead-Miami Speedway for a total of 400.5 miles. The race will feature 80 laps for stages one and two and a third and final stage of 107 laps.
Which drivers among all active drivers are the best at competing at the track? Here’s a look.
Top 10 Driver Ratings at Homestead-Miami
- Matt Kenseth – 107.7
- Kevin Harvick – 106.6
- Martin Truex Jr. – 101.8
- Kyle Larson – 101.6
- Jimmie Johnson – 97.8
- Kyle Busch – 96.9
- Denny Hamlin – 95.8
- Chase Elliott – 95.5
- Brad Keselowski – 88.5
- Joey Logano – 87.4
Driver names in red a current championship contenders.
NOTE: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2016 races (12 total) among active drivers at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Denny Hamlin was eliminated from championship contention last week in Phoenix. However, he is the only active driver with more than one win at Homestead-Miami. Denny will no doubt be looking for vindication this weekend by winning his third race at the track.
Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson each has a single Homestead-Miami Speedway win on their cup series racing resume. All are drivers that have been eliminated from championship contention during this year’s playoffs and will be looking for the same vindication as Denny at this weekend’s race.
The only other drivers to have won a race at Homestead-Miami in NASCAR’s top division are Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch as pointed out in the stats above. They have an obvious reason to race hard to win their second time at the track.
I would like to point out that the last three years the winner of this race was also the driver that won the championship for that year. Kevin Harvick in 2014, Kyle Busch in 2015 and Jimmie Johnson in the 2016 season last year.
How will this year’s race play out? Will a contender win the race and championship? Will another driver win the race, but not the championship? Who will be the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Champion?
We will all find out when the green flag waives to start the Ford EcoBoost 400 Sunday, November 19th at 2 PM central time (3 PM eastern time) at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
By: Buck Stevens