Fantasy NASCAR Race Preview: Ford EcoBoost 400

by Eric McClung on November 14, 2013 @ 13:48:03 PDT


It took several makeovers to get the racing at Homestead-Miami Speedway just right. After a failed attempt to produce 1.5-mile version of the rectangular Indianapolis Motor Speedway, track officials would finally settle on a more traditional oval design with progressive corner banking and flat straightaways. What stayed the same are the splashy, art-deco-inspired colors used throughout the venue or the numerous season-ending races the track hosts for various forms of motorsports, including all three major NASCAR touring series.

Practice sessions: Friday, Nov. 15 at 1:30 p.m. EDT; Saturday, Nov. 16 at 12:00 p.m. EDT, 3:00 p.m. EDT
Qualifying: Friday, Nov. 15 at 6:10 p.m. EDT
Race: Sunday, Nov. 17 at 3:00 p.m. ET
Location: Homestead, Fla.
Shape: Oval
Length: 1.5 miles
Laps: 267
Turns: 18-20 degrees
Frontstretch: 3 degrees
Backstretch: 3 degrees

Drivers to keep an eye on

NASCAR driver Greg Biffle
Biff has whiffed lately in Miami

Matt Kenseth | No. 20 Dollar General Toyota | Joe Gibbs Racing

Since 2005, Kenseth has finished inside the top 10 in five of the eight Homestead races. He's also held an average running position of seventh or better six times. Kenseth predictably struggled last week at Phoenix International Raceway but came into the desert showdown with a top-five in three of the previous four Chase events, two on intermediate tracks. Kenseth opened the Chase with a pair of wins, but recent stumbles have seen him fall 28 points out of the championship lead.

Kevin Harvick | No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet | Richard Childress Racing

Harvick comes into Homestead as an extremely reliable top-tier option. He owns five consecutive top-10s at the site, while no other driver has a current streak better than two. He's already won a pair of Chase races, including last week's at Phoenix. In between, he finished 12th or better in all four races with three results inside the top 10. Harvick is 34 points behind Jimmie Johnson in the standings, though, and would need a major stroke of luck to have a chance.

Jeff Gordon | No. 24 Axalta Coating Systems Chevrolet | Hendrick Motorsports

Gordon won this race last year and spent a career-best 99.3 percent of the race in the top 15. In 14 career Homestead starts, he's registered a total of 11 top-10s and has placed sixth or better five of the last six years. Since winning at Martinsville Speedway, Gordon blew a tire at Texas Motor Speedway and lost out on a good finish last week at Phoenix when he was kicked back to 14th during the final restart.

Clint Bowyer | No. 15 5-Hour Energy Toyota | Michael Waltrip Racing

In seven career starts at Homestead, Bowyer has only finished outside of the top 12 once. Last year, he finished as the runner-up with an average running position of fifth and 95.1 percent of his laps in the top 15, all career bests. Bowyer had been a top-15 machine throughout the Chase until a poor showing last week at Phoenix, where a few chances with pit strategy couldn't get him better than 20th.

Ryan Newman | No. 39 Quicken Loans Chevrolet | Stewart-Haas Racing

Over the last three years, Newman has finished 12th or better with an average running position of 11th or better each time. Last year, he finished a career-best third and spent all but nine laps running in the top 15. Over the last five races of the season, Newman has quietly scored four top-10s.

Carl Edwards | No. 99 Fastenal Ford | Roush Fenway Racing

Prior to last year's 12th-place finish at Homestead, Edwards had compiled seven consecutive results inside the top 10 with a pair of victories. On four occasions, he recorded more than 90 laps led. Unfortunately, Edwards has finished outside of the top 10 in four consecutive Chase races. He had a great opportunity to complete the sweep at Phoenix but ran out of fuel on the final lap to fall outside of the top 20.

Martin Truex Jr. | No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota | Michael Waltrip Racing

Truex has finished 11th or better in seven straight Homestead races with multiple laps led in each of the last three. Among all drivers, his career average running position of 8.2 ranks second. While Truex hasn't made a much noise with his results throughout the Chase, he's coming off his second top-10 in four starts.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. | No. 17 FORD ECO BOOST Ford | Roush Fenway Racing

A crash last year at Homestead was the last of four appearances Stenhouse made in 2012. As his first full season draws to a close, he's managed to snag all three of his top-10s of 2013 during the Chase, including a top-five. As a driver in the Nationwide Series, Homestead was one of his finest tracks with an average finish of fourth in three starts. Stenhouse also led multiple laps in each outing.

Temper your expectations

Jimmie Johnson | No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet | Hendrick Motorsports

With a cushion of 28 points, Johnson just needs to avoid making a mistake to secure his sixth championship. He scored the pole position in 2007 and finished seventh prior to another pole in 2009 and a top-five finish. His best run came in 2010, when he finished as runner-up despite a comfortable lead over Denny Hamlin. Johnson will likely compete, at least within reason, but really just needs to keep his ride intact.

Greg Biffle | No. 16 3M Fan Appreciation Ford | Roush Fenway Racing

From 2004-06, Biffle owned Homestead with three consecutive wins. Over the last six years, he's finished outside of the top 10 four times. While last year's fifth-place result was his best since the 2006 victory, The Biff has been rather pedestrian as of late with one top-10 finish in the last six Chase starts.

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About Eric McClung

Eric McClung has been profiled by the FSWA for covering the fantasy sports spectrum and is a three-time award finalist. Over the years, he's made several appearances in print and on radio. McClung began contributing to KFFL in 2008 and currently serves as one of KFFL's featured fantasy NASCAR experts. He's also captured the fantasy football championship in the KFFL staff league twice.

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