NASCAR heads to South Beach for the final intermediate-track race of the 2023 season. As always, trust the data but also trust your eyes. Here are the best bets for the NASCAR Cup Series 4EVER 400 Presented by Mobil 1 at Homestead.
Homestead is an intermediate track, but it stands alone. The setups and skills at Homestead are different. Miami speed is found on the high groove. NASCAR drivers hang it all out at this race track. If they don’t or won’t ride the wall, then they’re getting lapped. The Homestead winners are easy to predict. No one flukes their way forward. Current form matters. Track history matters.
Race Winner — 4EVER 400 Presented by Mobil 1 at Homestead
Kyle Larson +275
The Round of 16 set up nicely for Kyle Larson. The intermediate-track package was implemented for each track in that round (Darlington, Kansas and Bristol). Those tracks are a few of his best tracks. That says a lot. Larson is good everywhere. He’s great at his favorite tracks. In the opening round, he earned the highest driver rating at Darlington and the third-best at Kansas. At Bristol, Larson started 36th and still earned the fourth-best driver rating. Most of the Round of 12 can be dismissed because one race was at a super speedway (Talladega) and one was at a road course (The Roval). However, the opening race of that round was at Texas. The same intermediate-track package was in use, and Larson earned the third-best driver rating. If not for a late-race wreck while battling for the lead on a restart, then Larson would have topped the charts.
The playoff races have been good for Larson, and it could get better. He won and was the highest rated driver last week at the intermediate track in Las Vegas. His ticket is punched for the championship. He’s leaving Las Vegas playing with house money. The No. 5 team can gamble. Larson can leave it all on the table at a track where fortune favors the bold. Homestead requires skill and the type of courage that borders on being headlong. Speed is inches from the wall at Homestead, and so is the junkyard. It is a checkers-or-wreckers event. Most of the cars are just traffic. A few will push. A few will crash. Larson has been on both sides of it at Homestead. One thing is certain this weekend, Larson is trophy hunting. Most of the field is not. NASCAR winning picks start with drivers willing to win.
Tyler Reddick +500
There are two Xfinity Series Championship Trophies on his mantle. Those trophies sit next to a couple Homestead Checkered Flags. Reddick’s status at Homestead is legendary. He seems impossibly glued to the wall. He defies physics. And when he doesn’t, it’s fine. The Next Gen car can take a beating. Reddick can get away with stepping over the line, unlike in the Gen 6 model.
Reddick has never won a Cup Series race at Homestead. In fact, he’s only led three laps in three races. However, the 23XI Toyota driver has two top-5 finishes at Homestead. Those races weren’t in great cars. Reddick is not in a must win situation, but his average finish at Martinsville is 20.1. This might as well be a do-or-die race.
Race Winner — 4EVER 400 Presented by Mobil 1 at Homestead
William Byron +750
Kyle Larson and Tyler Reddick are the favorites at the high-groove, rim-riding race track in Miami. That doesn’t mean they will win. The odds are on their side, but are the racing gods on their side? Running up against the wall for 400 miles isn’t just a skill. It isn’t just luck. It requires a little faith. Sometimes that runs out and good cars run into walls. Both Larson and Reddick can attest to this. They each have Homestead DNFs on their stat sheet. If Larson and Reddick struggle, then this could open the door for William Byron. He’s no slouch at Homestead. He won the 2021 event. That was in a different racing package, but the racing style wasn’t much different. Last season in the Next Gen car, Byron earned the third-best driver rating at Homestead. On top of this, Byron has several wins at intermediate tracks (Las Vegas, Darlington and Texas) and a quasi-intermediate track (Phoenix) this season.
Chris Buescher +2200
A playoff driver is winning this race. A ticket to the championship is on the line. There are three spots remaining. Some drivers are in the comfortable position of being able to point race at Homestead and Martinsville. Other drivers need to win. Buescher needs to win. Currently, he’s 23 points below the cut line. As the top-tier drivers earn wins and earn stage points over the next two races, that cut line will widen. RFK Racing has one shot at sneaking their Ford into the championship – win. Homestead is their best bet. Buescher’s chances at Martinsville are slim to none, and slim just left town. In 16 races at the short track in Southside Virginia, Buescher has one top-10 finish and an average finish of 19.4. It’s Homestead or bust.
It’s not inconceivable that David slays Goliath this weekend. Like David, Buescher isn’t really an underdog. He’s just underestimated. Buescher has won three races this season, and one was at an intermediate track (Michigan). Finally, Homestead hasn’t been a hassle for Buescher. He’s handled the high groove admirably. In 2021, he led 57 laps at Homestead but ended up finishing 19th after getting stuck in traffic. The finish is less than ideal, but undeserved results were a common product of the old racing package.
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