2021 NASCAR Cup Series preview: Homestead

The NASCAR Cup Series returns to their dreaded 1.5-mile aero package that is loaded with downforce and only provides 550 units of horsepower to the engine. However, the race will take place on one of the better ovals with Homestead-Miami Speedway’s progressive banking and high tire-wear rate. 

The progressive banking allows multiple lanes to be used to create more freedom for passes, but the abundance of dirty air will play a factor in drivers trying to get around each other. 

One of the staples of Homestead is watching drivers ride inches from the wall to get a big run going down the back and frontstretch. 

Two drivers that have taken advantage of the wall riding are Kyle Larson and Tyler Reddick. They will be the must-watch cars on Sunday as they will attempt to use that line to get to the front of the field. In his first Cup race at Homestead last year, Reddick earned a top-five finish. He will have work to do on Sunday as he rolls off 35th. 

Larson has three top-five finishes in seven Homestead Cup starts, but finished outside the top 10 in his last two Homestead starts, which included engine problems in 2019, resulting in a last-place finish. He will start Sunday from the 17th position. 

Denny Hamlin is the defending winner at Homestead and will start on the pole Sunday. He has the second-highest average finish of active drivers with more than 10 starts on the track (9.9). Kevin Harvick leads that category with an average finish of 7.4. Harvick will start fourth. 

Joey Logano joins Hamlin on the front row and has found a plethora of success as he’s finished inside the top 10 in six of his eight starts. This stretch included a championship win at Homestead in 2018. 

First-time winners Christopher Bell and Michael McDowell will look to live up to their wins and playoff positions Sunday as they both start inside the top 10. Bell finished eighth at Homestead last season, but McDowell hasn’t been very successful on the track. He currently holds only one top-10 finish in 11 starts with an average finish of 29.7. He did finish 15th last season and maybe the Daytona 500 win and the good run on the Daytona road course will lead to good fortunes for McDowell Sunday. 

Ryan Preece wasn’t supposed to run a full season with JTG Daugherty Racing, but his great performances are keeping him in the points as he earned top 10’s at Daytona. He will roll off eighth on Sunday. 

Homestead will serve as the first true test for the teams of Trackhouse Racing and 23XI Racing. 

Daniel Suarez crashed out of the Daytona 500 early, but rebounded for a top-20 finish even after puking inside his helmet in the closing laps.

Bubba Wallace was not good on the Daytona RC to say the least and should come into Sunday with quite a big chip on his shoulder. 

Suarez has finished 30th or worse in three of four starts, but Wallace finished 13th on the track last year. The NASCAR community’s eyes should be kept on these two as well. 

Stages for the Dixie Vodka 400 end on lap 80, lap 160 and the finish on lap 267. There will be a competition caution on lap 25. FOX will provide TV coverage for the race beginning at 3:30 p.m. EST. The Motor Racing Network will provide your auditory necessities.

Starting lineup:

Pit stall assignments:

Goodyear tire notes: https://www.jayski.com/2021/02/23/goodyear-fast-facts-homestead-4/

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